March was an eventful month for the Devils. The first half of the month went solidly, as the team had a 5-3-1 record through their first 8 games. Spring, however, did not bring more success. Let’s take a look at how the team fared the past 31 days.
The first week of March began with a 3 game homestand. First came a game against the slumping Nashville Predators. The Devils took advantage of a slow Nashville team in front of them during the first period, then survived an onslaught in the following two periods to win the game 3-1. The next game was also against a slumping team, the Blue Jackets. Unfortunately, however, the team fell behind early, and couldn’t catch up to Columbus, eventually falling to them 3-2. Sunday featured a rivalry matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers. On this day, the team reminisced on their first cup win, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Stanley Cup Champions. The highlight of the game came at the end, as Claude Giroux whiffed on a shot and fell (seen above). The Devils defeated their opponents, 5-2, a fitting score considering the cup winning team won by the same score in their cup-clinching game against the Red Wings 20 years ago.
For this stretch, New Jersey traveled west to play against the Wild, Avalanche, and Coyotes. The first game was an embarrasssing 6-2 loss against the Wild. Cory Schneider was peppered with shots, and was pulled by the beginning of the third period. Kinkaid was unable to do much either though, letting in a goal during his relief appearance. The next game, however, was much closer. Schneider and Varlamov battled it out in a goalie duel that night, each letting in only one goal. A shootout was needed to decide the match, and, as expected, the Devils lost. An easy game was next on the schedule though. Unfortunately, the Devils almost blew it, forgetting that the game started until midway through the second period. Schneider kept the team in the game during the first half, and was rewarded well for all of his work. The team went on to win the game 4-1.
This short bit of March featured more winning from the team. On St. Patrick’s day, the Devils donned their vintage Christmas sweaters in their match against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Schneider once again kept the team in a game they should have been blown out in, and a goal by Josefson followed by an empty-netter by Henrique was enough to come on top against the Penguins and give the Devils a record above .500 for the first time since November. Schneider completed a shutout in the 2-0 performance. The following game was played in Buffalo. Bernier and Tootoo combined to score 3 goals, and an impressive game by Kinkaid was enough to pull out a win. Things were looking good for the team, as the Devils had a 10-3-2 record in their last 15 games. Sadly, though, Spring was not as kind to them.
Spring is supposed to be a new beginning. For the Devils, it brought the beginning of a losing streak. New Jersey couldn’t buy a goal against the Islanders, and faced a 3-0 loss at home. The following game featured a poor showing by the home team, as the Devils lost 3-1 against the Stanley Cup defending Kings. Next up was Washington. The players found themselves in a 2 goal hole against the Capitals by the second period, but showed that they still had a fire burning in them, peppering Holtby with shots and tying it up in the third. For the first time this month, New Jersey outshot their opponent. It was enough to get a point out of the game, though they were defeated in overtime by a shot from Matt Niskanen. The next game was again a horrible performance by the Devils. They were outshot and out-attempted by the Carolina Hurricanes, and Keith Kinkaid let in 3 goals in the 3-1 loss. The next day, the Ducks were hosted in Newark. The team played a competitive game, matching the Ducks for most of the game. It wasn’t enough, however, and another loss came that night, 2-1. The final game of the month played out in Columbus. New Jersey played well enough to keep the team in the game for most of the first 60 minutes. A lucky bounce here and there allowed them to make it to overtime against the Blue Jackets and gain a point. Sadly, that’s as far as the team was able to get, as the Blue Jackets got a goal in the extra 5 minutes.
|Player||Injury||Games Lost (March)|
|Bryce Salvador||Lower Body||14|
March was another healthy month for the Devils. Salvador and Clowe have been confirmed to be out for the rest of the season, and Elias had a small issue with back spasms to make him miss about a week. The issue seems to be taken care of though, meaning fans shouldn’t have to worry about him missing any more of the remaining games. As for the rest of the roster, everyone seems to be healthy. Considering how there are not many games left, the team should be able to finish up without any more issues in this regard.
Out of The Playoff Race
Last Sunday, Boston won their game, making it mathematically impossible for the Devils to make the playoffs. It wasn’t a feasible task for a while, so most fans shouldn’t be surprised by this. With that said, the next best thing fans have to look forward to is the draft. Currently, the Devils are slotted for the 6th overall pick of the draft. Unless they lose every single one of their next games and Carolina wins all of theirs, or the Devils win all of their remaining games, that position does not seem to be changing anytime soon. Considering the depth of this year’s draft, it appears that fans have a lot to look forward to in the future.
Havlat and Ryder
Martin Havlat and Michael Ryder each played 2 and 3 games in March, respectively. Combined, they contributed just 1 point. In no way should these two be brought back next year. They have been scratched more often than not as of late, and have done little in the way of contributing. The low price tags on each were enough to entice Lamoriello to bring them in as an experiment, but the plan did not work out as expected. Don’t be surprised if they end up on a different team next year, if they sign with another team at all.
The 6 game losing streak may have been a surprise to some, but some people have been saying that this would happen.Since the coaching change, New Jersey is 27th in even strength shot attempts for at 44.5%, according to war-on-ice. With possession statistics that low, losing games is expected. The team’s streak was considered to be unsustainable (though Calgary fans would argue that), and the losing streak proves it. The team is in no way a playoff team in its current shape. Considering the upcoming schedule, it’s difficult to see the Devils getting more than 2 more wins:
All 5 teams are playoff-bound, with the exception of Florida, who is still in the playoff race. With the way the team has been playing, it’s tough to have any optimism toward the Devils.
What do you think? Can the team win its remaining 5 games? Is there anything to look forward to for the rest of the season? Where will the team end up drafting? Let us know in the comments below!