Now don't get me wrong. I am aware the Devils have been without a significant portion of their offensive firepower the last few games. They aren't the only team suffering from injuries. However, the architecture of the Devils team reveals one fatal flaw. They have no quality depth. That is a major problem in today's NHL. Almost every successful team has young guys that can step in and not miss a beat. They are missing that and it becomes blatantly obvious when the injury bug bites.
With that said, this team sucks. I call it like I see it. I gave it the eye test. I know bad hockey when I see bad hockey. I refuse to sugar coat it because the guys playing poorly have the Devils emblem across their chest. The last two games have been painful to watch. Friday against the Blues was like deja vu from last year. Get a bunch of chances to start, fail to finish, run out of gas. Tonight Detroit made them look like an AHL team. This team lacks speed, youth, and the ability to create chances off talent alone. They are everything the Red Wings aren't.
One major issue is that the players that are being paid like the best players have been invisible. Zajac, Elias (more on him next blog), and to a lesser extent, Greene, have been more a part of the problem than the solution. With three of our top playmakers out, the leaders of this team are going to have to show themselves on the ice. I don't care how much of a locker room presence they provide. That holds especially true for possibly the worst of the bunch, the captain, Bryce Salvador. I don't want to beat a dead horse. Honestly, as bad as he has been, he gets more flack than he deserves. Regardless, he is not capable of playing NHL hockey anymore. A lot of the guys gracing the ice for New Jersey aren't capable. That isn't an excuse. In fact, the guys that barely deserve a roster spot haven't been the ones drastically underperforming.
I have stood by Pete Deboer as the coach of this team for a long time. I think I am starting to change my tune. Not because I don't think he is a good coach, but because I think this team needs a new voice. Honestly, Pete has been dealt a bad hand. No coach is coming in here and winning the Triple Crown with these horses. However, I would like to see some consistency. By that I do not mean a consistently bad penalty kill, or consistently turning the puck over, or consistently having major defensive breakdowns, or consistently getting stuck in our own end. After the mirage of a 3-0 start, this team has looked all sorts of bad.
I really feel bad for Cory. I really do. Say what you want, but the guy has stretches where he stands on his head. He gives up a couple softies, like every goalie, but he kept the Devils in the game in the first period. Could have roughly been 73-1 in the first period. It's time to give Kinkaid a start. It's not fair to Cory to play him every single game, and it's not fair to Kinkaid to have to always come in as middle relief. At this point you are going to drive Schneider to suicide if he has to play every night in front of this merry band of misfits.
Anyway, the last two nights have been bad hockey. At least last year they were in almost every game and played a solid brand of hockey. They just couldn't finish. Now they still can't score and they are playing with the awareness of a blind person before his morning coffee. I am not quitting on this team. I am just starting to see them for what they are. An old, slow team that will need to undergo major changes to make the playoffs.
P.S. Soooo Devils of them to make it a game last night after I stopped paying attention. Had it on in the background as I wrote a blog and all the sudden there is 4 goals in 5 minutes and it's a one goal game. Soooo Devils.