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Early Struggles for Devils

Entering the weekend the Devils find the team in a long forgotten part of the standings, out of the playoffs and 2 games under .500. If not for a ridiculous overtime comeback against the Panthers, the team could easily be 1-5. While the defense on the team hasn't been great, the offense has been downright pathetic. After moving Bozak over the summer to get under the cap the team was hoping that David Backes and Bobby Ryan would be able to fill in the top 2 C positions and so far they have been downright terrible. They each have one goal on the season with a combined -5 rating. While the whole top six group is doing badly, the Devils believe the offense has to run through the centers and that kind of production just won't justify that kind of icetime. Even more pathetic is that combined they only have 16 shots on goal.

That is it's own strange statistic for the team so far. Through six games so far, Giordano co-leads the team with 22 shots with Ryder, while two more defensemen (Wisniewski and Edler) round out the top 4 spots. This is a glaring problem as both Wiz and Edler haven't scored a goal with the combined 33 shots, while Giordano only has one. The teams top six players with shots on goal have combined for 3 goals on 101 shots or roughly 3% shooting. Turns out it's hard to win games even when getting tons of shots on net when all the shots are stopped.

The Devils as a team are 3rd in the league at 30.5 shots per game. However this is seriously undermined by the 5.2% powerplay and middle of the pack 84.2% penalty kill. If those numbers only improve a little bit the Devils will have to rely on 5 on 5 hockey and as shown in the last game against the Jets, the top line isn't ready for that.

Despite the lack of production, the Devils have remained somewhat silent about any potential line changes. Miller has started every game so far for the team, and with Bachman as the backup that is a good strategy. McQuaid was tried on the top 4 the last couple of games and after the Jets game where he went -3 and -1 against the Capitals that experiment is over for now. The teams next challenge is to face the Southeast division leading Hurricanes who are off to a dominant 4-1-1 start. They are scoring over three goals per game while getting amazing goaltending from former Devils Cory Schneider. It is hard for any team to match up against a team with that kind of star power up front and because of that the team will likely be forced to leave Backes in an important role despite the lack of production. He's still one of the best defensive centers in the league and will be tasked to shutdown Stamkos or Tavares. Coyle could find his way up to replace Clarkson or Purcell while Laich on the leftwing could replace a struggling Kane or Ryder.