Predicting the Team USA goaltenders

Dave Turner

With the Sochi olympics just over two months away, it’s almost time for the hockey teams to solidify their roster. Though team USA has a clearer picture in terms of skaters, the goaltending is still a question. We’ll make our picks and debate who should be the starter for team USA when they hit the ice looking to avenge their 2010 loss and bring home a gold medal.
Cory Schneider - 12 games played –  1.72 gaa, .927 save % – 2 shutouts

Craig Anderson - 17 games played – 3.51 gaa, .894 save % – 1 shutout

Jimmy Howard - 19 games played – 2.54 gaa, .913 save % – 2 shutouts

Ryan Miller – 20 games played – 3.05 gaa, .918 save % – 0 shutouts

Jonathan Quick - 15 games played – 2.35 gaa, .905 save % – 1 shutout

Ben Bishop - 20 games played – 2.08 gaa, .930 save % – 2 shutouts

So Jeff, who’s your starter?

Jeff OConnor

For me, it has to be Jonathan Quick. He’s earned this opportunity. With Ryan Miller being a bit past his prime, Quick has the best resume out of anyone.

Dave: His injury status and sub-par play this season don’t scare you at all?

Jeff: Not at all. His sub-par stretch is better than some NHL goalies’ peaks. Even after his Conn Smythe year in 2011-12, he came back last year and proved he is up there among the best of the best. He led his team to the final four squads standing and lost to a Blackhawks team that pretty much no one beat all year. As far as the injury, if he’s not back by the first week or two of January, i would be concerned but it seems like a Grade II groin strain is something that normally keeps athletes out a long time.

To read more of this story, click here

When Salvador Comes Back, Who Should Go?

When New Jersey Devils captain Bryce Salvador returns to the team, someone will have to head back to the minors.  There are several different options to choose from for GM Lou Lamoriello, which makes the decision a difficult one.  Dave and Jeff debate who should be the odd man out that’s sent to Albany.

Dave Turner: 

This is a tough decision, but the play of Eric Gelinas has put the Devils in a tough situation. If Gelinas wasn’t playing as well as he is, the decision would be quite simple: send him back down to Albany. In the preseason he was good, and now in three games, he’s already showing signs of the big-time expectations that this club has for him.

With that being said, I believe that it’s Peter Harrold who has to go. Here is where things get tricky… Harrold would have to clear waivers if he’s sent down to Albany. That fact means that any team could pick him up if the Devils were to try to send him down. Would the Devils like to lose him? Certainly not. Like Harrold or not, he’s a decent defenseman. He’s solid in his own zone and he has the ability to make some nice breakout passes.

What it boils down to right now is that Gelinas does more for this club than Harrold does. Would it be worth it to lose Harrold for nothing in order to keep Gelinas? I believe the answer to that is yes. The former Boston College Eagle was a nice part of the 2011-2012 Eastern Conference Championship team, but we know his ceiling. At his best, Harrold is a sixth defenseman. Optimally, he’s a very good seventh guy who can step in to the lineup and compete in the case of an injury.

The other x-factor in this decision is Mark Fayne. He has stepped it up in his opportunities so far this season and he’d serve just fine as the seventh defenseman. If this was an issue of leaving the team with only six d-men, then yes, Harrold would have to stay, but with Fayne, the team has the luxury of having a seventh man on the roster.

The other issue with sending No. 10 to Albany would be that if he does clear waivers, which is totally possible, his one-way, two-year contract at $800,000 would have to be paid as is. Lou Lamoriello has said that he doesn’t want to stash an NHL contract down in Albany, so that is definitely a deciding factor.

With the new ownership, $800,000 is not an exorbinant amount of money to eat. Gelinas is making $210,000 in Albany, so really, the difference is $590,000. In the pursuit of trying to win games and make the playoffs, is that such an insurmountable number? I don’t think so.

Though it would be unfortunate to lose Harrold if he’s picked up on waivers, keeping Eric Gelinas and Mark Fayne on the roster gives this team the best chance to win. We’ve already seen a glimpse of what Gelinas can do and it’s worth the risk, even at the expense of either losing Harrold, or paying him big money in the minors.

Eric Gelinas

Jeff O’Connor

Believe it or not, Eric Gelinas should be the one heading back to Albany.  Gelinas goes back to Albany, Salvador steps back into the starting lineup. Now, Pete DeBoer shouldn’t look at him as being in the minors. The Devils should call him back up when they feel a veteran should be healthy scratched. How you can do that, is sending players like Stephen Gionta, Mattias Tedenby or Jacob Josefson through waivers.

After losing Alex Urbom on waivers, I can’t see Lamoriello letting another defenseman going for nothing, but maybe he’d let a forward go if it means he could keep all his defensemen and use them how he wants to. The Devils have a surplus of bottom line spare parts like the afforementioned three. If potentially losing one of them means, in essence, keeping Gelinas around without losing Fayne or Harrold, they should go for it.

This probably goes against all conventional front office thinking, but it could work if the Devils don’t mind losing a forward. It’s highly doubtful anyone claims one of those three anyway. If they are, they must be on their active NHL roster. A team can’t claim one of those three forwards and just stash him with their AHL affiliate. Consider that when Ryane Clowe comes back, another forward will be dropping down to Albany anyway, so there will be EVEN MORE extra forwards.

Keeping Gelinas “on the team” will make the Devils the best club they can be. Their goaltending is set, they did all they could in the offseason to re-tool their offense and now their defense can have all its assets on the big roster. If they keep Gelinas around, they are leaving no stone unturned for 2013-14 and are putting the best possible roster they can on the ice every night.

Even After A Winner Is Declared, The Goal Song Is Still A Future Issue

By Jeff O’Connor

It appears there are only a few days remaining until there is a consistent goal song for the 2013-14 New Jersey Devils season.  After playing a completely new song on Opening Night and surprising over 17,000 people, the Devils gave their fans the opportunity to cast their vote for a new song.

The top three choices made a trial run at each of the last three home games.  Now the vote is on over the next few days for their new tune to make its debut on Saturday night versus the Flyers.

First, we’ll break down the three songs and give you our pick.

“Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes has been a hot track at sporting events the last few years.  The Baltimore Ravens used it a lot on their run to the Super Bowl, the Miami Heat pumped it a bunch on their run to a title this past season and in hockey, the New York Islanders used it last year before they jumped on the power play.  Before all that, it was frequently used by top universities at football and basketball games.

The song is OK, but it is on the verge of being overplayed.  If the Devils made the switch to this song a few years ago, it would have been unique and the fans, over time, might have taken a liking to it.

Then, there’s the song by Monster Truck.  How memorable was it?  I can’t even recall the name of it.  It was downright awful.  No one knew how to react to it and it really doesn’t invite a fun atmosphere into the building.  It shouldn’t win.  It won’t win.  Heck, I think people would rather go back to Opening Night’s “This Is Our House” by Bon Jovi if it meant Monster Truck’s song was never played again ever.

Last night, there was “The Whip” by Locksley.  It’s used by other teams in the league.  Again, it’s OK.  It’s more of a fun tune then a get-the-arena-pumped track.

If I had to pick one, I’d pick “The Whip”.  I don’t think “Seven Nation Army” is fun or a pump up song.  It’s just a unique continuous chant, that’s all.  “The Whip” is just a feel good song, although it’s tough to sing with.


One gripe I have…THESE are the songs fans “voted” for?  I saw, and I’m sure you did too, many other choices on social media that had plenty more traction.  “A Warrior’s Call” by Volbeat, “Runnin’ With The Devil” by Van Halen, “Hell Yeah” by Rev Theory, “Shout At The Devil” by Motley Crue or even the custom song by Rich Andruska.  I just find it hard to believe that a band who has yet to release even ONE full-length album (just two EP’s) was the second-highest voted song among the fans!!!  Well, unless the groupies of Monster Truck just used a ton of made-up e-mails to get their song in the mix.  If they did, props to them for, at the least, getting themselves some publicity.  Food for thought, Devils fans.

It appears that management wants to completely weed out any trace of “You Suck” chants more than anything with this shift in culture.  Mission accomplished if the Monster Truck or Locksley songs are picked.  There were pretty much no “You Suck” chants at The Rock the last two home games.  Perhaps people are already moving on.  It’s a chant that started organically and it will probably fade out and go away organically.

I thought this issue would truly come to a close this week, as the team would go into the next few seasons with one of these three songs.  After being in the building for the last few games, I have to say…I don’t think this has come to a final resolution.  Whether it changes this season again or before next year, I don’t think any of these three songs will be the long-time goal track at the Prudential Center.

If the team is going to change the song, make it a universally-known track that no team uses, or use something completely custom.  I know Devils fans hate it, but the Rangers goal song was made specifically for them.  The song stuck, it’s theirs and their fans love it.  That’s what the Devils need…a new song that they can make a tradition for a long time, just like Rock and Roll Part II was.

Is it possible they go back to Rock and Roll Part II?  It wouldn’t surprise me at all.  Either way, while a solution will soon be handed down for 2013-14, don’t expect this issue to be the long-term answer to a sensitive issue amongst Devils fans.

10/22 Mailbag: Answering some questions as we head deeper into October

Dave Turner

It’s always great to answer some reader questions, especially now that we have quite a few games worth of information to go on. If you have a question, always feel free to tweet @SNYDevils.

Jonathan Harpula – @Starpula - Larsson for Yakupov? Who says no at this point?

On paper, this would be intriguing, but I think that’s as far as it goes. I can’t speak for what the Edmonton Oilers plan on doing with Nail Yakupov, but for the Devils and Adam Larsson, it’s far too soon to give up on him.

Yes, Larsson has been victimized for a few goals already this year and he’s currently out of the lineup in favor of Mark Fayne, but he’ll certainly get his chance again. The former #4 overall pick is only 20, so there is still a lot of time for development. To me, it makes no sense to give up on him so early.

If he continues to struggle and perhaps finds himself out of the lineup for an extended period of time this season, then maybe, just maybe, it’s a possibility that the team could look to move him. The only issue at that point would be that his value wouldn’t be so high.

In terms of Yakupov, it’s almost the same issue. He’s only 20, as well. The Russian-born winger has only one point through seven games this season and has struggled.

In the days of Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos and now, Seth Jones, everyone seems to want these young players to come out and be stars right away. That doesn’t always happen. When these young players come over from either Juniors or overseas, they’re not used to playing NHL style hockey, playing against men and the best in the world. There’s nothing wrong with waiting a couple of years for a guy to reach his potential.

If there is one reason why I would say that this deal won’t happen, it’s because Yakupov is Russian. Though he played junior hockey (and was a teammate of Reid Boucher) with the Sarnia Sting, there’s no doubt that the KHL could come calling with a sizable contract to lure one of their young potential stars back to Russia. Considering that the Devils already lost a player to the KHL, I think that is something that would keep them away from ever jettisoning Larsson in hopes of turning Yakupov around.

Look at it this way. You have two young players with a ton of potential who are struggling. One knows your system and the other doesn’t. To me, that’s a no-brainer and Adam Larsson will be a Devil for the foreseeable future as he continues to mature.

PetitPilot – @PetitPilot777 - from what you’ve seen this season, and what you think will happen, who gets more starts? Schneider or Brodeur?

This is a question that has been asked many times already and will continue to be asked throughout the course of the season.

As I alluded to the other day, the numbers speak for themselves at this very moment.

Screen Shot 2013-10-20 at 4.20.29 PMBoth goaltenders have played four games so far, with drastically different results. Martin Brodeur has struggled at times, especially against the Senators. Schneider seems to be getting more and more comfortable in net every time he plays, with just two goals surrendered in his last two games and one of which was a garbage-time goal after an empty-netter against Winnipeg.

Schneider is getting the start tonight against Columbus and if he plays well, there’s probably a good chance he’ll play Thursday against his former team when the Canucks travel to Prudential Center.

It’s still very early and there is a lot of hockey to be played, so it’s hard to just come out and decide that Schneider should be the true number one just yet. Brodeur hasn’t been sharp, but they’re going to need him with all of the back-to-back’s that they play this season. Brodeur is going to get his starts with the hope that with more action, he’ll round into form.alg-brodeur-save-jpg

If I had to make a prediction, I believe that Schneider will end up with more starts, but the number is not going to be staggering, because this team will do everything possible to get Brodeur into a groove where he’s playing good hockey. Having two goaltenders that can be counted on makes the Devils a much better team.

Also, you don’t want to rely on one goaltender so much that if one were to go down with an extended injury, that the other is forced into a string of games where he isn’t quite ready to shoulder that load.

Avid Devils Fan – @NJDMCP - Why does DeBoer play Harrold over Fayne and/or Larsson? I’m sincerely puzzled.

Peter Harrold hasn’t exactly been stellar so far in 2013-2014, so this does raise a question. He is currently third to last on the team with a minus-four rating. Part of the reason why, is that Adam Larsson is a minus-five.

The team as a whole struggled over the first seven games of the season, so it’s easy to quickly overreact and judge players on a small sample size. The Devils like what they’ve seen from Harrold in the past, or they wouldn’t have signed him to a new contract this offseason.

Harrold doesn’t exactly bring anything breathtaking to the table in terms of offensive skill or shutdown ability, but when he’s playing well, he fits the bottom-pairing role quite well. He usually doesn’t make mistakes and he has the ability to make a breakout pass.

That being said, I think the defensive starting six is somewhat of a fluid situation and will likely change many times this season. Mark Fayne came in and has played well in two games.

It’s as simple as this: If the defense is playing well, Pete DeBoer is going to keep the same six that he had in during the prior game. The defense was excellent against the Rangers, so if they turn in another strong performance against Columbus, why change it?

There is definitely a situation where Peter Harrold could be the odd man out in favor of Adam Larsson, but his play moving forward will dictate that.

Squiggs – @IamtheSquiggs – Why is Marek Zidlicky so bad?

Normally I wouldn’t include such a question as this one that is so scathing towards a player, but in this case, a little education is needed.

As of the afternoon of 10/22 how many NHL defensemen have more assists than Marek Zidlicky?

The answer is one and it’s P.K. Subban, who has exactly one more assist (eight) than Zidlicky (seven).

marek-zidlicky-mulhollandjpg-7cc91b25ddd83cd3Yes, there are times when Zidlicky will pinch and get caught out of position, I get that. As a whole, the Czech-born defenseman is far and away the most offensively skilled blueliner on this team.

“Zid’s good, when Zids keeps it simple and plays within himself, he’s very effective for us. It’s just walking that line where he’s offensive without being reckless. He’s a smart guy, he’s a veteran guy, he comes back to the bench and he recognizes when he pushes it a little too far, it’s nice to have a guy like that,” said DeBoer of Zidlicky after Saturday’s game against the Rangers.

Is he going to make some bad choices and get caught out of position? It’ll most likely happen a time or two, but what Zidlicky brings to the table is a passing ability that no other defenseman on this roster has. Considering the start he’s had, calling him bad is a huge falsity at this point.

Tim – @Hockey459 – Is PDB here to stay?

My answer to this one is simple. Lou Lamoriello has expressed confidence in this group. Also, let’s let the season play out. Who knows, in two weeks, if this team has won five of six, this question might be silly to even ask. We’re only eight games in, no need to speculate at this point.

Andrew Sciametta - At what point do we give Gelinas a shot instead of Harrold and Fayne?

This might be a money issue more than anything else. Eric Gelinas certainly looked good enough to warrant a roster spot out of camp, but was sent down to Albany instead. Through five games with the A-Devils, the young blueliner has a goal, two assists and a team-leading 20 shots on goal. He has a cannon of a shot and that in itself could help this club.

The real issue would be making room for him to be called up. With the glut of forwards on this team, there’s no room for eight defenseman (unless, of course, someone gets hurt). Also, if the team wanted to bring Gelinas up, they’d have to likely send someone like Harrold of Fayne through waivers. Sending either of them down would mean that they could lose them completely, or have to pay an NHL salary for either of them to play in the AHL, because both are on one-way contracts. Lamoriello has stated that paying an NHL contract in Albany was not in the Devils plans.

I happen to like Gelinas a lot. He’s still a bit raw defensively in some respects, but his offensive game has a ton of upside. I do think he’ll find his way back to New Jersey, but it’ll most likely be due to an injury to one of the defensemen who are currently on the roster.

The quest for a new goal song – what’s your vote for?


Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2″ has come and gone, that much is sure. Whether you’re someone who loved the old goal song or not, the Devils made it clear that they are looking for a new song and listening to fans, when they sent out an email asking fans to vote for a new song on Tuesday.

There are plenty of ideas for goal songs, but there are two types of songs that we’ve seen people suggesting. Either it’s a song with a chorus that can be chanted along with, or a song that rocks out enough that hey, why not just go crazy when the Devils light the lamp.

Finding a new goal song is going to be a daunting challenge for the team because there will be SO many different suggestions and they’ll probably have to sift through a couple of thousand write-ins for the old song.

We make our picks for the song and also look at some of your emails.

 Dave Turner’s Picks: 

1. Beer- Reel Big Fish - No not the part about the beer. There’s a great “woahhhh” part of the song around the 2:45 mark that is easy to chant along with and it sounds great. Not a conventional choice, but it makes for a great goal song. To me, it’s exactly the type of fast paced song that also allows you to sing along with.

2. Howl – Gaslight Anthem –  The intro to this song is great. Couple in the fact that this is a jersey band that always wears their hometown affiliation on their sleeve and it’s a great choice. The fact that they say “Hey” though, might be a bit too close for comfort.

3. Filter- Hey Man, Nice Shot - This one is definitely more of the “rock out” variety as opposed to being something to chant along with. It’s catchy and what makes a better goal song than saying hey man, nice shot.

Honorable Mention: Rev Theory, Hell Yeah.

 Jeff O’Connor’s Picks: 

My top choice would be “Runnin’ With The Devil” by Van Halen.  Start it at approximately 58 seconds.  The chorus is just enough of a sing-song piece where fans can pump their vocals.  Also, the song is used in their first Stanley Cup video…reason enough!

Another one of my choices would be “Shout At The Devil” by Motley Crue.  It’s nasty 80s rock with a very deliberate spot for the fans to chant.  The only thing I fear is that the “Shout” chants by the crowd won’t appear audible to those listening at home.  Not that that really matters.  The only important is that people are screaming that and making it loud inside the Prudential Center.  I hope it at least gets an audition at the next few home games.

The last would be “Rock Ya Red” by Kherk Cobain (yes, my tongue is slightly in my cheek).  It’s certainly unique and nobody has a goal song like that in any type of league.  Tough to chant to, but people would perhaps be going nuts in their seats and in the aisles.  At least in my weird fantasy world.

Honorable Mentions:  Bro Hymn by Pennywise.  Been used by multiple teams, but definitely cool.  It has staying power for sure.  I’d be fine with this.  How about Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis?  Who cares if the Chicago Blackhawks already use it?  It’s an awesome song and we’d all love it.  Perhaps it will be a dark horse.  Maybe AC/DC’s chorus of “Highway to Hell“.  Decent sing-a-long.  Not sure it will get people pumped, though.  One more…”Born To Raise Hell” by Motorhead.

Here are some of the emails we received. Seems like they definitely echoed some of our own sentiments:

Dennis Springer – My suggestion would be the chorus from the song “Fire Woman” by The Cult.  If ownership is not going to endorse fan chants during the song, why not have a rocking song that screams the word “Fire!” which after all is synonymous with the Devils.

Christian Clark – Hell Yeah by Rev Theory. 2:55 mark. Would be a great song.

Andrew SciamettaHowl by Gaslight Anthem seems to be popular amongst some fans. Catchy and its an NJ native band.

Amidst the slide to start the season, who is to blame?

Dave Turner

Six games in and a giant goose egg in the W column.

A zero that grows exponentially now, with every loss.

Who/what is to blame for a 0-3-3 team fresh off a 3-0 defeat in what was certainly a “must-win” game.

I’ll preface these thoughts with this statement: No matter what has happened so far, by the end of this week, there will either be a full-on tailspin or the team could be back in the playoff picture in the Metropolitan Division.  It’s troubling to say that the season hangs in the balance on October 14th, but with three days off before the final leg of their road trip in Ottawa, then a home game against the Rangers, this could be a defining week for this team.  Win both, everything suddenly doesn’t look so bad. Lose both and head into the fourth week of the NHL season in disarray.

So, where does the blame lie six games in? Let’s take a look at some of the different pieces in this organization.

1. Pete DeBoer - It’s always easy to blame the coach for struggles. Many times, a team that greatly underachieves will result in the firing of their coach.  Can you really put this on DeBoer? The third-year coach inherited a team this year that lost its best player. Sure, they filled the holes with some talent, but the hardest part is finding the best way to utilize those players. deboer-lamorielloThe constant line changes are troublesome, but considering that there is no blue print for success, different line combinations have to be tried out. If the team isn’t scoring, the only thing he can do is try to find some chemistry between different players. The time to fire a coach is when he’s lost the dressing room. Is the team not responding to him anymore? We don’t know that, but from what we can tell, this isn’t the case. The Devils have played well enough in four of their six games to come away with a win, but it didn’t happen. He’s not on the ice, he can’t take shootout attempts, he can’t have the refs reverse a goaltender interference call in Calgary. What he can do is keep this team focused and ready to put their best effort on the ice each night. If that is still happening, then DeBoer will stay.

2. The assistant coaches – It seems like everyone is ready to jump off the Dave Barr bandwagon already. It’s six games, learning a new power play system with a plethora of new bodies. Is Barr’s power play any different than it was at any time over the last few years? There have been plenty of coaches running the Devils power play over the last few years, all with the same results. To me, that points to personnel over coaching. Doesn’t matter the system if the players just aren’t getting the job done.  Their current 6.7% on the man-advantage is good for second worst in the league. As for Scott Stevens, he has a lot to prove. There’s no doubt that #4 was an incredible player and leader during his playing days, but so far the Stevens-led defense has not shown anything to suggest that he’s doing well. Sure, you can easily blame personnel, that the defense is too slow, etc. The biggest area of concern is that Adam Larsson almost seems to have regressed since last season. He has been beat numerous times on plays that have resulted in a goal. Larsson should be able to learn from Stevens right? As for the penalty kill, that hasn’t been strong either. Though they’re middle of the pack at 81.2%, their record setting number of two seasons ago seems like eons away at this point.

3. The goaltending – Cory Schneider and Martin Brodeur were supposed to be one of the best tandems in the NHL. So far, it’s been almost the opposite. Yes, the defense has left both netminders out to dry, but good goaltenders steal games. How many times have we seen the Rangers look lost in years past, just to see Henrik Lundqvist stand on his head to get a win. Brodeur has done that many times in the past when this team needed a big-time performance. With all the struggles that this team has had, a dominant goaltending performance might be what it takes to get a win and that hasn’t happened so far. Yes, Schneider was very good against the Jets last night, but in the end, it wasn’t enough. In a game like Sunday’s contest, he had to make the save on Evander Kane’s sharp angle goal that made the game 1-0 Jets. At some point, if this team is going to go anywhere, one of these two needs to step up their game and put the team on their back, rattle off a stretch where they give up one or two a night for 4-5 games.

4. The defense – The breakdowns from the d-corps have been staggering at times. The defense has been almost what Johan Hedberg was to the team at points last year, where a terrible play results in a disheartening goal that puts the team behind. This team blew a 2-1 lead to the Islanders, a 3-0 lead to the Oilers, a 2-0 lead to Vancouver and a 2-1 lead to Calgary. Where is the shutdown defense? When is this team going to grab a lead and play suffocating defense to preserve a win? It hasn’t happened yet, not even once. Bryce SalvadorAnton Volchenkov and Bryce Salvador have been struggling at times and even Andy Greene got undressed by Evander Kane on a play along the boards against the Jets. As a whole, this unit needs to find a way to keep leads, or this will be a long season.

5. The offense – Everything looked like it’d be okay with this unit, but the wild inconsistencies are hurting them. Shut out twice so far in six games and no game where they were able to score a big goal to protect a lead. 1.83 goals for is not going to get it done, despite some of the promising things we’ve seen from this unit. Something that can’t be overlooked is the team’s faceoff win percentage. The Devils are second to only the Florida Panthers for the WORST faceoff percentage in the league at 44.1 percent, which must get better. When faceoff numbers are that low, you’re not only limiting your offensive chances, but also creating many more chances for the opposition in your own end. That number must be better.  Damien Brunner, Michael Ryder and Jaromir Jagr have been nice additions and have shown some early scoring touch. As for the two Devils who have inked long-term contracts in recent years,

Devils-SenatorsTravis Zajac and Adam Henrique each have two points. Both of them must elevate their play if this team is going to score at a more consistent rate.

Pick your poison. You can find blame just about anywhere with this team, but when you’re 0-3-3, that’s not hard to do. With a few days off before the Ottawa game, a good stretch this week can begin to put all of this in the rear-view mirror. If not, we’ll be looking at a potential make-or-break week for this team in the final full week of October

Is Pete DeBoer On The Hot Seat In 2013-14?

Jeff OConnor

With all the player personnel change going on in Newark, it’s easy to forget about the head coach.  Peter DeBoer is entering his third season at the helm of the New Jersey Devils.  His first season was a major success; taking NJ to the Stanley Cup Finals.  His second campaign was a pretty big disappointment, especially considering how fast of a start they had.  Perhaps it’s a bit too early to discuss it, but it might be a conversation that’s not too far down the road depending on the club’s start; how much pressure is on Pete DeBoer in 2013-14?

deboer-lamorielloMaybe it’s unfair to put last year’s collapse on DeBoer, but there’s no denying it happened on his watch, even if there was a 48-game season and injures to overcome.  In the middle of last year, I mentioned that DeBoer should be in NJ for a long time.  While I still believe he should, this is a big swing year for his job security with GM Lou Lamoriello and new ownership closely watching.

To get one thing out of the way immediately, even if the Devils get off to a rocky start and are in limbo standings-wise heading into the final month or two, I don’t think Lamoriello will axe him.  Lamoriello has been quick to fire coaches in-season before, but it appears the players have taken a liking to him, unlike the Brent Sutters and John MacLeans of recent years.  Unless the Devils are MacLean-bad, DeBoer will be here the full year.

That said, I have some doubts whether Lamoriello will keep the 45-year-old coach on board for 2014-15 if the Devils miss the playoffs this year.  New Jersey hasn’t missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons since 1985-86 and 1986-87.

Regardless of roster turnover, PDB shouldn’t get a free pass this year.  However, it’s very possible he won’t be held to the fire considering the team has lost its three most productive players over the last two offseasons to free agency (or “retirement”).  Very few, if any, coaches can survive such a blow.

Heck, throw in the fact that he may be given the dilemma of playing new acquisition Cory Schneider over fan favorite Martin Brodeur.  Even if Schneider is playing great and No. 30 isn’t playing at his best, will the Ontario native receive backlash from the fanbase, and more importantly, Brodeur himself?  That’s going to be an extremely delicate situation.Pete DeBoer

He basically has a whole new deck of forwards with no scoring aces.  It’s going to take some time for the lines to gel.  If they struggle out of the gate, it’s hard to get on DeBoer considering the hand he’s been dealt.

As many angles as there are to look at this, if the team makes the playoffs, DeBoer definitely stays, regardless of the outcome of said postseason.  If they miss the playoffs but finish within a few points of a playoff spot, I still think there’s a great chance DeBoer is the guy in 2014-15.

Pete DeBoer is the perfect mold of coach.  He doesn’t sugar coat things and never gets too high or low on the outcome of any specific game.  He brought an underrated team within two games of its fourth championship.  He’s probably the most likeable coach the fanbase has seen since Pat Burns.

The question is, how likeable will he be to management and ownership if he’s the first Devils coach in 27 years to miss the playoffs in consecutive seasons?

The pressure is on.