There have been New Jersey Devils fans on the “Fire DeBoer” bandwagon for some time now, but since the start of the 2014-15 campaign the tension has risen and Devils head coach Peter DeBoer has given fans a reason to want him gone.
Start with the team’s less-than-impressive 9-11-4, with 22 points that has them in 5th in the Metropolitan Division but would put them in last or second-to-last place in any other division. Add to that two separate 4-game losing streaks in the month of November for 10 losses altogether that month.
The Devils have been inconsistent at best when it comes to goaltending provided by Cory Schneider. The guy’s a good goalie, but he’s at his best when he plays a couple of games followed by a night off. Instead, he played 20 consecutive games to start the season, going 9-9-2 in that span and 9-10-3 overall (one loss he played in was credited as a loss to backup Keith Kinkaid).
That record isn’t entirely Schneider’s fault. Sometimes, the offense doesn’t show up. In his 11 regulation losses this season, 10 of those were games when the Devils scored 2 or fewer goals, and twice the team was shut out.
Even worse than the lack of offense, though, is the fact that DeBoer decided to keep Schneider in net for 20 straight games, and three straight since his one night off. There have been eight games when Schneider allowed four or more goals. A good coach, a coach who knows how to manage a team, doesn’t allow a goalie to continue to start long stretches like that when he’s performing the way that Schneider has been.
The worst part about how badly DeBoer has been coaching this team is that it’s not a bad group of players. The roster is full of talent, young and old. Although there have been notable injuries, there are also good, healthy players that aren’t being pushed to perform the way that they can.
Take Michael Ryder, for example. Ryder is fourth on the team in points, with four goals and eight assists. He’s played in all 24 games on various lines, but is a healthy scratch versus the Penguins tonight to make room in the lineup for Adam Henrique and Scott Gomez. Ryder is capable of producing good numbers; last season, the line of Ryder, Henrique, and Ryane Clowe scored 50 goals for the Devils.
Ryder’s a talented player who’s put everything into the game all season long. Now, he’s being healthy scratched against the toughest team in the division, in favor of Gomez and Henrique, one who hasn’t played all season and the other who’s been injured twice already.
The Devils have a multitude of problems this season, but they all boil down to their head coach. DeBoer’s worth was heightened by success three seasons ago, that only happened because of players like Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, David Clarkson, and Martin Brodeur. It didn’t happen because of DeBoer and it isn’t happening now. The longer he coaches, the deeper they dig themselves into a hole that won’t see playoffs for a long time.