The Devil Way


The New Jersey Devils once prided themselves on being the best. At least that’s how it used to be under Team President and GM Lou Lamoriello. The architect of three Stanley Cups and five Finals appearances has never taken a back seat to anyone. After the unexpected departure of Ilya Kovalchuk, he vowed to field a competitive roster that could challenge for the playoffs.

So far, it hasn’t gone accordingly. The Devils’ latest defeat against the Senators by a score of 5-2 extended their season winless streak to seven (0-4-3). A rally fell short with Ottawa getting the final two sending the once proud franchise into its Saturday match against the Rangers still seeking their first win. They’re the only team left without a win. Even the Sabres, Flyers and Oilers have wins. It would be easy to point out that they’ve been in most games. They’ve lost once in overtime and twice in a shootout. At least that was the talking point from the official Devils Twitter after the game.

New Jersey Devils     ‏@NHLDevils          35m 

The final horn sounds.  The scoreboard does not reflect our play tonight, but we still fall to Ottawa 5-2.  #NJDvsOTT

It’s all well and good to accentuate the positive when things don’t go your way. However, at some point reality sets in. You have to look in the mirror. The Devils used to make zero excuses when they lost. That’s been the Devil Way. Not lately. If you follow the Devils on Twitter or tune into the telecast or radio, the spin machine is in full force. In sports, it doesn’t work that way. There’s winning and losing. No in between. Right now, the Devils 0-4-3 record for three points ranks second worst in the Eastern Conference. Only the Flyers have less points (2). Following a 3-0 loss at home, the Sabres are 1-7-1.

There’s an old saying Hall Of Fame coach Bill Parcells always said. “You are what your record says you are.”

Whether they want to admit or not, the Devils are a bad hockey team right now. They’ve been outscored 26-13. A combination of poor offense, shoddy defense and subpar goaltending from future Hall Of Famer Martin Brodeur are the story so far. Coach Pete DeBoer has come under fire for questionable personnel decisions. Even though they competed tonight, there have been disturbing stretches where they’ve seemed disjointed. A recent loss at Winnipeg saw Cory Schneider storm off the ice. That kind of emotion is needed.

The Devils aren’t the only area local struggling. The Rangers are off to a 2-4-0 start having been outscored 25-11. A 2-0 shutout against favorite target Washington may get them untracked. However, they’ll have to do it without captain Ryan Callahan, who is lost for 3-4 weeks with a broken thumb after blocking a shot. Already minus Rick Nash and Carl Hagelin, they have to right the ship regardless. It’s the same for New Jersey. Under a new division format, only the top six are guaranteed playoffs. The remaining two are wildcards. The Metropolitan isn’t strong so far with only Pittsburgh out quick. There’s plenty of time to turn it around.

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About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included two stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil games. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has scored Berkeley Carroll basketball games since 2006 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. From players, coaches to administrators, it's a first class program. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree.
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