As the 2021-22 NHL season is coming to a close it is time to talk about a big area of improvement… COACHING!! From the 2020-21 season, Lindy Ruff and his staff behind the bench have compiled 19 wins, 30 losses, and seven Overtime Losses per Hockey Reference. That 2020-21 team was a .402 Win% and this is not very good, especially with the subpar coaching going into 2021-22. This season the team is currently a .393 Win% although winning 26 games, losing 42, and still losing seven games in overtime and in the shootout.
In fact, the special teams have flunked beyond expectations. In addition to this chaos, the Devils on the power play gave up 11 shorthanded goals this season, as opposed to last season where they only gave up five.
Additionally to the facts above from the coaching the trending downward in win percentage the Devils need to make a coaching change and several more. Not to mention that the way Lindy Ruff’s coaching style is far beyond suited for today’s NHL. It is no wonder why the rival Rangers across the pond were happy to let him go from their bench.
This season the Devils under Lindy Ruff and his bench staff have only been applying strategies
A few off-seasons ago Lindy Ruff was not at the top of my list while I covered the Devils for another blog but my 3 Coaches at the time were Rikard Gronborg from the Swiss League (NLA, Zurich Lions), Gerard Gallant, and Peter Laviolette that summer. In another article, I will discuss more possible New Jersey Devils coaches for the offseason push.
Goaltending this past offseason was looked at to become a core strength with Mackenzie Blackwood being joined by Jonathan Bernier. On December 10th of 2021, the veteran net-minder Jonathan Bernier had a season-ending hip injury that put him on LTIR. The continuous unrelenting play of Mackenzie Blackwood in the net was beginning to overwork him and resulted in a left heel injury. This became a massive issue for the Devils’ goalie situation.
Henceforth the goaltending conundrums with Jon Gillies coming in via trade began the backup goalie carousel problem in the net. However, the team’s call-up of Nico Daws has actually seen him win .40 of games in these very turbulent times. Mackenzie Blackwood, before his injury, was sitting at a .39 win percentage per game.
If Mackenzie Blackwood is indeed healthy next season and joins Nico Daws in the net it is likely the Devils go goalie hunting. Names like Ville Husso, Ilya Samsonov, and Vitek Vanecek are all possible goalie targets that the New Jersey Devils can offer very good contracts to. In an 82-game season, the Devils are trying to increase the possibility of depth with skilled talent in the net.
In fact, the need for the Devils to field a healthier goalie core is just one thing Tom Fitzgerald will be looking to remain active in moving forward to bolstering their scoring wings looking to move Tomas Tatar to the 3rd line. The fact of the matter is once the Devils have their goaltending issues solved and improved scoring wingers the team will be on the right track to replace and upgrade their defensive coaching staff.
Only time will tell if Fitzgerald will look to get the New Jersey Devils to not only become more competitive but also hard to play against. He needs to make them a very hard team to play against going forward getting them to play important hockey games with his young core growing and making a playoff push.