Reasons why the New Jersey Devils will and won’t make the Playoffs

The New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Kyle Palmieri (21)
Kyle Palmieri #21 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

For #1: Palmieri getting hot

It has been the young guns that have been leading the way for the New Jersey Devils so far in 2020-21 with Jack Hughes carving out a stunning sophomore season with nine points (3 G, 6 A) in 11 games, while Ty Smith, Yegor Sharangovich and Miles Wood have all made big contributions.

However, any good team in the NHL needs their very best players to lead by example and turn it on, and the Devils need Kyle Palmieri to be at his potent best if they are to somehow sneak into the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year.

Heading into Thursday’s game against the Boston Bruins without a single goal to his name and with just four points in 9 games, Palmieri wasn’t exactly hot and it was one of his slowest starts to a season offensively in his career.

But, good things come to those who wait and Palmieri enjoyed arguably his best game of the year on Thursday, recording his first two goals of the year and looking much more of a threat in the offensive zone. His first goal of the season was a beauty as he picked up a slick pass from Jack Hughes before beating Jaroslav Halak with an unstoppable wrister, and his second was a shorthanded breakaway.

It was incredibly encouraging for the New Jersey Devils and if Kyle Palmieri can now build off this and start to get hot, then that will only strengthen their bid to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs while easing the pressure on some of the team’s young guns.

Kyle Palmieri (21)
Kyle Palmieri #21 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Against #2: Lack of Depth

The New Jersey Devils are a team in transition right now, trying to build around their young core of Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, Ty Smith and Mackenzie Blackwood, putting pieces in place that will hopefully lead to a long-awaited return to the glory days over the next few years.

Therefore, the Devils have some talent on this roster but it is also a flawed one, and one that lacks considerable depth. For instance, they have seemingly found their franchise goalie in Blackwood who is 4-0-1 this year with a 1.94 Goals Against Average and a .945 Save Percentage, although the talent behind him is thin following Corey Crawford’s sudden retirement.

The blueline unit is solid and has some nice pieces, although it remains to be seen what the long-term plan is for veteran defenseman P.K. Subban, while the Devils have a couple of very good forward lines that can produce at a high-level.

However, in comparison to some of the big-hitters in the East Division, the New Jersey Devils just don’t have the same level of depth or talent in certain areas and, should injuries hit or players enter the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocol list, then the lack of impact players waiting in the wings could really hurt this team down the stretch when it comes to making the postseason.