With big off-season additions, come big expectations. And so far, the New Jersey Devils have yet to meet them.
The Devils selected Jack Hughes with the first-overall pick, traded for Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban and acquired KHL star Nikita Gusev, leading many fans and prognosticators to believe New Jersey could jump from a 29th-place finish in 2018-19 to the playoffs this season.
But the Devils have struggled out of the gate, posting a 2-5-3 record in their first 10 games and have blown two-goal leads and lost in four of their seven home games, including Wednesday night’s 7-6 overtime defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning when they were up 5-3 with 19 minutes left to play.
It was another disappointing result, and the Devils’ faithful showed their displeasure, showering the home team with boos throughout the game.
And the harsh feedback from the Prudential Center seemed to take its toll on New Jersey’s star winger Taylor Hall.
“We’re kind of battling our own fans right now. We were 1-for-3 on the power play and we are getting booed. It’s a tie game, we are getting booed. That’s a tough environment to play in sometimes, especially when you are at home. I know that when we’re playing somewhere and their fans start booing, it’s a fun environment for the away team to play in,” Hall, who notched two assists, told reporters after the game.
“I understand the fans’ frustration. After the game, if they are booing (because) we are losing that is fine. But when we’re 1-for-3 on the power play and they’re booing our power play, that is tough. If you’re playing at home, you want to feed off the energy of the crowd and not let that affect you, but sometimes it does.”
Despite the Devils’ tough start to the season, Hall — who leads New Jersey with nine points in 10 games — believes things are looking up.
“I think we feel pretty good about it, the practices have served us well and the meetings and all the things we’re really trying to do. If you look at the shot clock, I think we’re double the other team the last couple of games, things are trending in the right direction. We are not getting the wins that we probably deserve, but there’s going to be some games this year where we will probably get outplayed and we manage to come out with a W,” he told reporters.
“82 games it usually tends to even out. But as far as our play, I think we have a lot to be proud of the last couple (of games).”