The New Jersey Devils are the NHL’s lone winless team at 0-4-3. They face the rival (and reeling) New York Rangers at home on Saturday night, the first time they’ve been home since a shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Oct. 4.
A must-win for coach Pete DeBoer right?
“I’m not big on must-wins,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer told Fire and Ice on Friday. “There’s no doubt we need a win. I think we need a win for our confidence. I’m really not looking at the standings right now. For me, it’s an evaluation of how our team is playing and where our team game is and where our identity is. I thought we took a real good step last night in Ottawa and you keep building on that and if we do we’ll win games. That’s my view of it.”
Well, eventually, the “winning games” part of the equation will have to be solved.
Devils President/GM/Ruler of All He Surveys Lou Lamoriello has never exactly been a creature of patience with losing coaches, but he told the Star-Ledger that he has faith in his coaches:
"I feel comfortable saying this: This team deserves a little more faith for being on the road six out of seven games and not coming out with more points. But we haven’t (gotten more points). We’re not going to dwell on it. The coaching staff is doing everything they can. So are the players. They’re working at it. We have to be more consistent in certain areas."
The Devils peppered the Senators with 42 shots in their 5-2 loss, but goalie Marty Brodeur let in some soft goals. Cory Schneider gets the start against the Rangers – his first regular-season game against them.
So what if the Rangers embarrass the Devils at The Rock? What if the team drops to eight games without a win? Does DeBoer think he’s in trouble?
“Those are decisions for other people to make,” DeBoer told Fire and Ice. “That’s always the elephant in the room. You know it’s there, but at the same time you don’t worry about that. It sounds ridiculous, but you don’t think about, ‘If we don’t win, what could happen?’ You’re so involved in finding a solution and you know you’re close that’s where 100 percent of your energy goes.”
Luckily, both the Devils and Rangers are in the Metropolitan Division. Despite terrible starts – the Rangers are 2-4-0 – they’re both still in the postseason hunt because the rest of the division (Pittsburgh excepted) is mediocre at best.