It’s another season for the New Jersey Devils and so it’s another long trek through what most likely will be a tough season.
The difficulty is a little different this year. Last year the Devils struggled with aging players and injuries whereas this year the Devils have a new general manager (Ray Shero) who cleaned out the majority of staff and a lot of players fans wanted to see gone. There is a new coach (John Hynes) who brought in new assistant coaches and with a new system I expected an adjustment period, and that’s exactly what Devils fans are seeing.
The Devils are now 0-3-1 after their first four games, which is the same start as the 2001-02 season; is this an omen where Devils can be hopeful? Only time will tell, however from watching all but the Nashville Predators (the Devils opened back to back with the Winnipeg Jets and Washington Capitals, played the San Jose Sharks yesterday), there’s a slow and steady improvement.
The (San Jose) Sharks were coming in to New Jersey undefeated and an exceptional start of the season by their goaltender Martin Jones. The Sharks scored in the first two minutes against Cory Schneider (who had his first game back after a few days off with his new baby) however the Devils slowly increased their performance, matching the Sharks up and down the ice.
Compared to their first two games, this Devils team was looking much improved; defense was solid, anticipating the puck, and blocking lanes. Forwards were getting chances and the puck was moving well up the ice. Again, the only Devils goal came on a powerplay, with 5-on-5 goals still being scarce.
The Devils scored with 3:38 left in the third period thanks to a (Adam) Henrique deflection and fans were given display to the new 3-on-3 overtime, where there was a lot of back and forth, showcasing some exciting hockey.
Unfortunately the Devils lost in the shootout (leftover from the last couple of years of failed shootout records) but it meant the Devils now have a point in the standings and broke their regulation loss streak.
There were some bright spots from the Sharks game: Lee Stempniak and Adam Henrique played well, Cory Schneider settled in and was very good with positioning, and overall the team is gradually moving towards John Hynes’ system of speed; the Devils team is definitely playing a faster, more agile style game and there will be an adjustment period, however I believe the future could be promising if the improvement over the first four games is anything to go by.
Overall, the season may be a long one for us Devils fans, however I for one will be watching the Devils games in hope that they continually buy in to the new system and the 2001-02 starting statistics are an omen worth believing in, because let’s go Devils in the 2015-16 season!