The calendar has turned to December which means it is the most wonderful time of the year. Unfortunately, this year the holiday season does not overlap with hockey season. That doesn’t mean hockey isn’t on our mind as we write our list to Santa Claus.
Us New Jersey Devils’ fans have some Christmas wishes of our own. Quick disclaimer, these are all things that are realistic and a possibility for the team. Do not expect trading former Devils’ superstar Kevin Rooney’s old jock strap for Leon Draisatl to show up on this list. Here’s the New Jersey Devils fan wish list for 2020.
Continued Growth For Mackenzie Blackwood
The move to make Mackenzie Blackwood the New Jersey Devil’s number one goaltender of the future was solidified when the team placed one-time all star Cory Schneider on waivers last season.
At first, the move may have been a bit concerning. As throwing Blackwood into shark infested waters may have been a dangerous game. He is still a young, so leaving him mentor-less to start on a team with less than great offense and even worse defense did not seem like the best idea.
Thankfully, Mackenzie Blackwood thrived. His finale 2019-2020 season record was 22-14-8. Once again, considering his situation, that record was a pleasant surprise. That would put the team on pace for roughly 96-points over an 82 game season.
Blackwood’s goals against average was at 2.77 and his save percentage was at .915 last season. Those numbers are not bad in the slightest, but we would love to see them better. With a slightly improved defense (we’ll get to that in a minute) we should see those number get even better.
Finally See Ty Smith
Ever since Ty Smith fell to the New Jersey Devils in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, we have been waiting to see him on the Devils’ blue line. Last year was supposed to be the season he made his long anticipated debut. After all, it’s not like the team’s defense didn’t need the help.
Unfortunately, Ty Smith didn’t break out on the 2019-2020 team roster. After a subpar training camp, it was probably for the better he spent another year in the WHL. In that extra year Ty Smith was a dominant force. The legend of Ty Smith only grew and so did the anticipation of fans ready to see him on the ice. Hopefully this year is finally the year.
Lindy Ruff Be the Right Head Coach
Out of all the names that were predicted to be in the running for the Devils’ next head coach, Lindy Ruff was the one I was least interested in. It wasn’t even close. When I thought of Lindy Ruff, I saw a bland head coach well past his prime. His glory days with the Buffalo Sabres were long behind him.
When he was announced as the head coach hire, I wasn’t thrilled in the slightest. Still, we have yet to see a Lindy Ruff-led New Jersey Devils team take the ice. If he can turn this team around maybe we’ll change our opinion.
I hope I’m wrong about Lindy ruff. We all hope we were wrong about Lindy Ruff. If we’re wrong about Lindy Ruff, it means good things for the team. We need to temper our expectations with patience though. If we see the young players improve and the team take the next step forward then Ruff might be the right guy for the job. Still don’t expect cup contenders just yet.