It was a few minutes after ten o’clock Saturday night and there was Pete DeBoer standing in front of an assembled media throng attempting to explain another night when precious little went according to script.
He and they had spent the better part of two-and-a-half hours watching his New Jersey Devils drop a 4-1 decision to the Washington Capitals, falling to 10-13-4 in the process.
After the loss — New Jersey’s eighth in their last 10 games — it was mentioned to DeBoer that his goaltender, Cory Schneider, had suggested the Devils did not possess the requisite “energy” in the opening 40 minutes necessary to win a game. When DeBoer agreed with that assessment, the question was asked how much of the Devils’ issues were effort-based and how much was a lack of execution.
Exasperated, DeBoer said, “It was everything.”
In three small words, the state of the 2014-15 New Jersey Devils had been addressed.
A little more than a quarter of the way into the season, an unsightly portrait of the Devils has begun to emerge which has been equally confusing and unacceptable for a franchise whose DNA is encoded with success.
Entering Monday night, the Devils had earned 24 points in 27 games, an average of 0.8 points per game. Multiplied by 82 and that projects to a 72.8 point season, which would be the fewest points in a full season since the 1988-89 team finished with 63.
For accuracy’s sake, the 1994-95 and 2012-13 editions recorded 52 and 48-points seasons, respectively, but those campaigns were shortened to 48-games due to lockouts.
As Metro New York examined in its Mar. 16 edition, Eastern Conference playoff teams have averaged at least 87.375 points since the 2005-06 season. Seventy-two points would put the Devils on the outside looking in once the meaningful games are contested in the spring.
It would put the Devils in the draft lottery mix for the potential opportunity to draft either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel with the first or second overall pick. Both McDavid and Eichel have been titled asgenerational talents, cornerstones for the franchises who land the first and second overall picks in this June’s Entry Draft in Sunrise, Fla.
This draft coincides with the re-imagined draft lottery odds. Unlike past years where the worst overall team had a 25 percent chance of winning the first overall pick, beginning this season the worst overall team has a 20 percent chance of drafting first overall.
While the reconstructed lottery odds would in theory give the Devils a chance to pick McDavid or Eichel, it is far more likely that the team would draft in the 7-10 range should they finish with the estimated 72.8 points. Projections based on point totals prior to Monday night’s games show that Edmonton (57.7), Carolina (59.9), Buffalo (60.7), Columbus (63.07), Arizona (67.35) and Philadelphia (69.38) would all finish the 2014-15 season with fewer points than the Devils.
While an argument can be made the franchise would experience a long-term benefit by using the remaining 55 games of the current campaign to begin a thorough rebuild, the Devils focus is on recording the franchise’s 23rd playoff berth.
But is it feasible?
Prior to Monday’s 2-1 win overMetropolitan Division bottom feeder Carolina, the Devils were 7-9-1 away from the Prudential Center and 3-4-3 on home ice. Whether in or away from Newark, the team has not found a formula for consistent offensive production as the Devils have only scored 66 goals total this season while yielding 80 after the win over the Hurricanes, a game in which they were out-shot 40-16 and out-attempted 94-42.
“We have to be better everywhere,” JaromirJagr said. “Not just [at] home. Everywhere.”
“We’re not getting into the playoffs,” DeBoer said.
You can follow NHL writer Denis Gorman on Twitter at @DenisGorman