The New Jersey Devils, arguably the best franchise in the NHL over the last 20 years, with three Stanley Cup Championships, have fallen on hard times. The team, currently at 28-28-10, is in danger of missing the postseason for the third consecutive year and fourth out of the past five seasons.
The team was the NHL’s model of consistency in the 2000s, anchored by iconic goaltender Martin Brodeur.
The Devils made the playoffs every year during the previous decade, winning Stanley Cups in 2000 and 2003 and losing in the 2001 Stanley Cup Final. After missing the postseason in 2011 for the first time since 1996, the team bounced back in a big way in 2012, as they advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, where they lost to the Los Angeles Kings in six games.
Since that Stanley Cup loss, things have gone downhill for the team. Though the lockout during the first half of the 2012-2013 season certainly didn’t help them, the Devils simply didn’t play playoff-caliber hockey during the abbreviated season. Brodeur’s age really started to catch up with him during the season, as injuries forced him to miss 19 games in the 48-game season. The team went an underwhelming 6-10-3 in Brodeur’s absence.
Last season, the team missed the playoffs by five points, with a league-high 18 overtime losses being a clear reason why. The season also was Brodeur’s last with the Devils, as his replacement Cory Schneider was in net for half of the team’s games and was simply more effective than Brodeur.
Ramapo senior and Devils fan Justin Gianelli said he thinks it won’t take long for the team to return to the level of play that has been expected of their fans.
“Schneider is the backbone and future of the organization, and the defensemen are young and blossoming into talented players,” he said.
Gianelli said the Devils’s lack of offensive production needs to be addressed, possibly through free agency during the summer.
The Devils’s future is bright in regards to their defense and goaltending, and their offense will only get better if management commits to getting younger and faster players. Devils fans are hoping that the team can make a return to the postseason next season and bring back the glory that the franchise earned during the 1990s and 2000s.