After starting the season with back to back 5-2 losses, many Devils fans are pointing fingers, mainly at their head coach.
Coming out of the pre-season with a 5-2 record, New Jersey Devils fans were excited for the upcoming season. Seeing stellar performances from newcomer Ondrej Palat, rookies Alexander Holtz, Fabian Zetterlund, Kevin Bahl, and Simon Nemec, along with a visual improvement in goaltending, fans gained a new sense of hope. Unfortunately, all this seemingly came crashing down in the span of three days.
The Devils ended up losing 5-2 against two rebuilding teams, the Philadelphia Flyers, and the Detroit Red Wings. In those two games, they outshot their opponents 76 to 47.
Goaltending, which has been a problem for this team for two seasons, has looked as miserable as ever, with Mackenzie Blackwood and Vitek Vanecek recording save percentages of .833 and .773 respectively–Not good for a team aspiring to be competitive.
It would be bad enough that the goaltenders are underperforming, but the skaters have been just as bad. Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Yegor Sharangovich, and Ondrej Palat have yet to register a point, and several bad plays have been made from veterans like Tomas Tatar and Damon Severson. The best player throughout the three games has been Jesper Bratt, who has registered 3 assists in the two games he played.He is doing this despite playing less than 20 minutes a night, leading to what Devils fans have been complaining most about: The coaching.
The Results of the Lindy Ruff Experiment
Lindy Ruff has been head coach of the Devils since the start of the 2020-21 season
When he was introduced at the home opener on October 15th, the sound of boos rained down on Devils head coach Lindy Ruff, much to his surprise. Ruff could be seen saying “am I being booed?”. By the end of the first game, fans were calling for his termination.
Out of the 137 games he coached, Lindy Ruff has won only 44. His coaching style and special teams has at several points during his tenure cost wins, and his deployment of lines has been seen as random at times.
It seems like the clock is ticking on Ruff’s tenure as Devils head coach, and unfortunately for him, the Devils have most likely already hired his replacement.
A Possible Replacement
Andrew Brunette became interim head coach of the Florida Panthers after Joel Quenneville’s resignation
Over the offseason, general manager Tom Fitzgerald hired Andrew Brunette as associate coach. Former interim head coach of President’s Trophy winner Florida Panthers, he was surprisingly let go by them when they hired former Jets coach Paul Maurice as his replacement. Many fans hope that Brunette takes on the role as head coach sooner rather than later.
This outrage might only be an exaggeration, because at the time of writing this, the Devils have only played two games. However, many fans are seeing the same issues in the team as last year, and are rightfully tired of seeing it. If that means a change behind the bench, they are willing to see it happen. But we are only two games into the Devils season, and in the remaining 80 games, anything is possible.