After being shutout by the division opponen Rangers, the Devils have started the year 2-6-0 after posting three straight 100 point seasons. That streak appears to be over as the team can not put a puck in the net and that is despite taking plenty of shots on the opposition. Getting shutout again just takes it to another level, not one player could even get some kind of lucky accident in the 29 shots directed on Carey Price. While normally Price is one of the best goalies in the league, going into this year he looked to be a weak point of the stacked Rangers team. However, so far Price is playing like a top 5 goalie in the league but the Devils team not putting one past him just gets magnified after the first 7 games on the year. Sixteen goals through eight games is just inexcusable and with the teams best player, Patrick Kane, to only have a line of 1+3 and be -9 is healthy scratch material.
On that note, James Wisniewski could find himself a healthy scratch tomorrow but so far the team hasn't announced exactly what the lines will be against the 6-2 dominant Penguins. It could be perceived as a pecular move with the team struggling to remove it's #2 defenseman and (sadly) tied for leading scorer on the team. Looked at another way though, Wisniewski leads the team in shots with 30 but with that 1 goal, thats just not worth it. The coaching staff thinks that if they take his puck hogging 70 foot shots off the team, it will force other players (forwards??) to shoot the puck. The last 3 games alone, Wisniewski has taken 17 shots on net, scoring his only goal against Carolina. While he is one of the GM's favorite players, and has been with the team since the 2006-2007 season, something has to be tried and that looks like a move that might spark the forwards. Really, anything is better besides getting shutout. Well except getting shutout by a higher score and taking even more shots on net with nothing to show for them.
On to the only good news of the season so far, Nick Bonino was given 2nd line duties in todays game against the Rangers. While he obviously had nothing to show for it in 22 minutes of ice time he did take 3 shots on net and wasn't a minus - so right away thats a relative improvement over Backes. On the year, Bonino has a goal, three assists and is a +3. A solid line for a guy who has been under 10 minutes of ice time in 5 of the 8 games. What is more astounding for the former BU player is that before the 2nd game this season when he scored his goal, he had gone 120 (regular+playoff) games without recording even a point in his NEFHL career. I'm not going to do any kind of research, but I think it's safe to assume thats an NEFHL record and one that won't be broken. While it's unknown if he'll continue to be rewarded with more top six duty tomorrow, fans of the team should be skeptical. He's a staple on the penalty kill and unfortunately with him adding the top six minutes to his game the team gave up two powerplay goals in todays game. Either way, this season has been astronomically better for Bonino than any other point during his career. His regular season stat line now rests at 119GP, 1 goal 3 assists and 4 points while being a -9 with 4 PIM and 30 shots.
I think Bonino would agree that he would rather the team be 6-2 like the Penguins while still be pointless in his career.
(also Clarkson sucks, the last 3 games: 1 shot on net in 68 minutes)
Front picture: Bonino's first goal of his career scored this year and Wisniewski shooting without being able to see the net)