The Devils aren’t good. They are 4-0. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. Let me elaborate.
To start, they haven’t played a game away from Prudential Center, or ‘The Rock,’ as Hoboken residents like to call it. I don’t count the charity game in whatever Nordic country they opened the season in as an away game.
Once they have an away game (and they only have two in the entire month of October, sick scheduling NHL), I expect them to come back down to earth like they do every season. Let’s take an in-depth look at their lineup and let me tell you why they’ll be outside of a playoff spot by February.
I’ll be honest, the first line of Hall-Hischier-Palmieri is legit. Hall will carry Palmieri through his annual 40-game slump and will dish to Hischier to help him prove he’s not a bust after being picked first overall.
Line two is a tire fire. Marcus Johansson is one concussion away from residing on Jupiter. Pavel Zacha still hasn’t adjusted to North American ice. And Stefan Noesen… don’t even get me started on how big of an abomination it is to have this guy in an NHL top-6. Putrid second line.
I don’t hate the bottom-6, to be honest. Wood is a burner with no hands. Zajac may be 48 years-old but he still is a formidable 3rd line centre. Quenneville is also a burner who can’t score.
Brian Boyle is a great fourth liner. I won’t deny that, but Devils fans seem to think he’s in for a 20-20 season. Nope.
Coleman and J.S. Dea are fine if you give them 7 minutes of ice a night. No complaints there, just don’t find a scapegoat in the bottom-6 when you score 12 goals in the entire month of November.
Mirco Mueller on your first pair? Hell, even Vatanen isn’t a guy I’d want out against teams top-6, and that’s coming from a fan of his.
Greene-Severson are the ‘shutdown pair’ if there is one here, which is a problem since neither of them are good. Like, at all.
Will Butcher is one of the better college free-agent signings of the past few years, but he’s not great defensively, hence the reason he’s sheltered on the third pair. Ben Lovejoy is celebrating his 50th birthday later this season so he’s not exactly fleet of foot.
Cory Schnieder in net is, at this point, a league-average goalie. Keith ‘Emoji Fetish’ Kinkaid is a poor backup. Best hope Schnieds stays healthy.
There you have it, Devils fans. Don’t get your hopes up just yet. And, please, clean up your state.