NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — With a new coach and major changes in the roster after missing the playoffs the past three years, the New Jersey Devils knew there might be some hard times early in the season.
Still, three losses in three games isn’t the start John Hynes and his players envisioned.
The problems are obvious and the same as in recent years. Not enough goals. New Jersey has scored five goals and two of them have been “own goals’ with Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba and Washington’s Jason Chimera tallying into their own net while trying to clear pucks in front of their goaltenders.
Thirteen of the Devils’ 21 skaters have failed to register a point. The team has not held a lead in any game.
Defenseman Adam Larsson called the start frustrating, adding the team has to pick up its work ethic and intensity and do it consistently.
“Honestly we want to win,” said the 22-year-old Swede, who was the fourth pick overall in 2011 draft. “We have lost three in a row, I think this is a desperate time for us, even if it is the beginning of the season. We want to win and get a good feeling in here. We’re not going to be heads down and down on ourselves.’
The Devils have played well in spurts in adapting to Hynes’ up-tempo style of offense. While they have yet to generate as many scoring chances as the 40-year-old coach would like, they are getting some. They just haven’t converted many.
Some may question whether the Devils have enough talent on offense. Mike Cammalleri led the team with 27 goals last season, but it was big step down to Adam Henrique, who was second with 16 goals.
Kyle Palmieri (14 goals) was acquired from Anaheim in a draft-day deal, but there is no star on this team.
New Jersey had hoped that Pavel Zacha, the sixth pick overall in the June draft, might have been ready to make the jump to the NHL, but he was sent back to junior hockey. Joe Blandisi, who had 52 goals in junior, also didn’t make the team and was sent to Albany of the AHL.
Hynes believes his team has enough skill players, but they are not generating enough scoring chances. The team needs to get more to the scoring areas, have more extended offensive zone shifts and get 16 or 17 chances a game.
“We have to get to that point first,” Hynes said Wednesday after practice.
If the team does that, the wins will follow.
“Desperation is not a good word,” he said. “It’s not controllable. We want to continue to focus on the things we need to do to win games. That’s what controllable.”
Veteran center Stephen Gionta said the Devils aren’t doing enough to win now.
“It’s kind of where we are at and we have to figure out quickly what we need to do to pick up two points,” Gionta said. “It on us as players to give out what we are doing offensively, and back up what we are saying.”
Goaltender Cory Schneider returned to the team on Wednesday. His wife gave birth to a son on Tuesday morning. He missed the Devils loss to Nashville on Tuesday night.
“I think we were right there,” he said. “We have to give that little extra push that we know we have. Like I said, we’re not settling and almost isn’t good enough. It’s up to us to find that 5, 10, 15 percent to get us over the hump and get a win.”
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