New Jersey Devils' Defense Needs To Stop Big Plays

By Nick Villano
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The New Jersey Devils may not have a win on the season yet, but as was said before there are some positives to take on the season.  One of those positives, however, is not the stoppage of big plays.

In the first two games of the season, the Devils’ defense has been anything but stellar.  They have great overall games but make two or three big mistakes that turn into goals.  The Pittsburgh Penguins scored three goals against the Devils, and all three times they started in the Devils’ offensive zone.  This team cannot let these speedy teams get a rush against them as often as they do.  In the game against the New York Islanders the same thing was true.  They had three goals, and every one one of them started with the Devils in the offensive zone.

This brings up two things that are alarming, one of which is the giveaways and takeaways.  The Devils are losing the puck much more often than they are taking it.  In the Penguins game, they watched as the other team took it away ten times to their one time.  In the Islanders game it was more of the same.  They gave it away to them 11 times to their three.  The other problem is during these plays the defense is not getting back.  That may be because the defense is pinching, they may be slower, or they may just be out of position.

Anton Volchenkov keeps getting hit at the worst possible times.  Adam Larsson, someone that most think will become one of the better defenders in the NHL this season, has a paltry -4 in the first two games.  Out of the 569 recorded players in the league this season, only four have a worse +/-.  Marek Zidlicki is the only defenseman with a positive +/-, and no it isn’t because of being on the power play because the Devils haven’t scored a PP goal yet.  This unit needs to improve, but there is hope that they will.

It is early so there is no need to panic just yet.  These problems seem to be a lack of chemistry over anything, and that word is coming up a ton early in this season.  Give this team some time to gel in their offensive zone, and let the defense learn the best ways to stay in position.  The Devils are in Edmonton tonight, another lightning quick team.  With the veteran Martin Brodeur in net, it should be the perfect test for this team.

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