The 2021-22 New Jersey Devils have, in fact, one of the youngest rosters in the league. The roster has a lot of talent that the Devils desperately need. So far, during the first 16 games of the season, they have been many surprising stand-out players. Andreas Johnsson is the most prominent example of a player who has amazingly improved. You also have rookie Dawson Mercer who has become a Calder trophy candidate who is currently leading the team. But like every year, there are always players who are so bad and slacking off that they need to get better. Those two players are Damon Severson and Ty Smith. Both players have significant issues with them right now, and they need to be solved quickly. So, what are the problems with Damon Severson and Ty Smith?
Damon Severson Needs to Stop Making Mistakes
It may not be a big surprise that Damon Severson is struggling. The last few years saw Damon Severson struggle immensely when it comes to playing defense. Not only does Severson still have defensive issues, but he has a problem when it comes to puck possession. Just this year alone, he has a total of 8 takeaways.
But the biggest problem with Severson is that last season, he was the second-best defenseman on the team. Severson had played very well, having 21 points in the 56 games he played. This year, he has contributed very little to the team; he contributed more problems than points.
A significant example of this was the game against the Los Angeles Kings on November 5th. Earlier in the game, the Devils already took three penalties. While it may not have resulted in many PPGs for the Kings, the Devils still could not take any more penalties.
Then Damon Severson did the unthinkable and took three penalties in the same period. Severson took one for tripping, interference, and high sticking. On those three powerplays, the Kings only managed to get one goal out of them, with Arthur Kaliyev getting the goal. Even though the Devils managed to tie it up, they ended up losing the game in OT, but more on that later.
However, Severson managed to redeem himself against the San Jose Sharks the next game by scoring the winning goal in the shootout. However, he still needs to do more than that to show how reliable he can be on this young team. Severson needs to start scoring more points because Severson only has 4 points so far. If he doesn’t fix his issues, he may be gone by the trade deadline.
Ty Smith Needs to Stop Turning Over the Puck
In the previous season, Ty Smith had a lot of hype placed around him. While he may not have been a Calder trophy candidate, he still put up great rookie numbers. In Smith’s first NHL season, he combined for 21 points in 48 games. Smith not only placed himself in the top 10 in scoring that year, but Smith was the best defenseman on the Devils that year. Unfortunately, Smith’s 2nd season began on the IR. Ty missed the first three games of the season until he was active against the Sabres. It took about seven games to finally get Smith’s first 3 points of the year in a win against the Florida Panthers on November 6th. Even though a sophomore slump is usual for athletes, there is always one consistent issue that plagues his game. For Ty Smith, that issue turns out to be how many times he gives the puck away.
Like Severson, Smith has eight giveaways this year. However, Smith has had some Devils win costed due to his giveaways. Going back to that Kings game, the game went into overtime. As Ty was attempting to play with the puck, he got pressured and gave away the puck to Phillip Danault, who set up Alex Iafallo on the one-timer for the game-winner. Another example is the game on Halloween against the Blue Jackets. Smith turned over the puck twice in that game. The first giveaway happened in the first period when Smith attempted a pass to Nico Hischier.
Because Nico still didn’t control the puck, it got taken by Jakub Voracek. It led to Voreck helping Patrik Laine complete a one-timer to give the Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead. The second giveaway happened in the third period. When Ty tried to clear the puck, it happened to hit Boone Jenner, who then maneuvered around the defense to score the tying goal. The Devils would go on to lose that game in the shootout. If Smith wants to return to his former self, he must control his puck possession issues and find his offensive capabilities again. Once he does that, the Devils will get more offensive opportunities. The Devils need both Smith and Severson immediately especially considering their opponents are getting tougher. So they need both of them fixed more quickly than ever.
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