St. Louis Blues Opposition: The New Jersey Devils


Coming back to the states as we look at the St. Louis Blues opposition, we enter the Garden State. The New Jersey Devils are next up.

The St. Louis Blues used to have trouble when they went out east to play the New Jersey Devils. Goals were hard to come by as the Devils had one of the toughest defenses in the game and one of the best goaltenders as well.

In the 90’s and 2000’s, the Blues only managed nine wins in 31 games during that time period. Continental Airlines Arena was a fortress back then.

Now, the Devils, though a decent team, are a shell of their former selves. Gone are all the old names. Gone is Lou Lamoriello.

The Prudential Center is partially empty on many nights. Fans of the team are mainly hanging onto those old days as recent success has been hard to come by.

It’s been a very slow build for the Devils, but they are starting to piece together a good team. GM Ray Shero may night be doing it quickly enough for the tastes of some, but he’s finding the right pieces.

Shero added some inexpensive pieces, namely Kyle Palmieri, last offseason. Then, Shero made some bigger moves this offseason.

Getting all the pieces to coherently come together will be key. New Jersey has some holes, but they are still a team on the rise.

Key Additions

The biggest addition for New Jersey was a player that Blues fans were hoping would be wearing the Note this season. Taylor Hall will be wearing red and black instead of blue and orange, or blue and yellow for that matter.

st. louis blues
Apr 6, 2016; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall (4) waits for the play to start against the Vancouver Canucks at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports /

Hall was traded during the summer in exchange for Adam Larsson. The Devils made a choice to go for offense at the sake of defense, but we’ll get into that in a bit.

New Jersey brought in Beau Bennett during the summer as well. Bennett won’t provide much, but he’s looking for more playing time than he got in Pittsburgh and the Devils are looking for depth. Both sides may get what they want in that deal.

Ben Lovejoy was also acquired for a couple reasons. One, he at least plugs a hole in the defense, even if it’s a round peg in a square hole. He also brings Stanley Cup experience, coming from Pittsburgh.

Hall adds a big time offensive element, which is something the Devils desparately needed. The biggest question will be whether Hall and company can put enough in the net to keep their goals allowed totals down.

Key Losses

Lee Stempniak was not listed as one of Craig Custance’s key losses, but the current Carolina Hurricane will be missed. Even though he’s 33, he still 16 goals and 41 points in 63 games with the Devils on a team that struggled for offense.

Outside of that, Larsson is clearly the biggest loss. A good, young defenseman was the price of adding some scoring.

Larsson is much more of today’s defender. He was not going to be the next Scott Stevens. He was a very good defender.

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Playing on a team that allowed more goals than scored, Larsson was still a plus-15. At 23, he was still going up against the competition’s best scorers as well.

Larsson is going to leave a rather large hole on the blueline. It is a rather large hole that someone like Lovejoy is not going to fill.

Also gone are David Schlemko and David Warsofsky. Warsofsky only saw 10 games of action, so he is no great loss. Schlemko is another hole to fill on the back, but at -22, he wasn’t exactly part of the solution defensively.

Devils Outlook

Scoring should be better. The Devils bring back two 30 goal scorers in Palmieri, awarded a new 5-year deal, and Adam Henrique.

Hall has yet to score 30 goals, but is definitely capable of it. The problem will be everyone else.

Even the 30 goal scorers only had point totals in the 50’s. Normally you have that many goals, you’re going to have 60-70 points. Not the case.

The Devils only had three other scorers with double digit goals. Everyone else had single digit goals. That’s going to be difficult for one man, Hall, to overcome.

Additionally, the subtraction of Larsson is going to be a real detraction. The Devils have some good defensive talent ready to make the jump to the NHL, but talent is no guarantee of success.

Corey Schneider is in the top half of goaltenders in the game, at least, and it seems as though the Devils are going to waste his talents.

New Jersey just isn’t good enough defensively right now to make a push and goals seems like they will still be at a premium. A jump to the playoffs is not impossible, but it will be improbable.

Blues Games

As mentioned, the Blues used to struggle with the Devils. They went 9-18-4 over two decades when the Devils were at their best.

The Devils have not been their best and the Blues have taken advantage of it. St. Louis has gone 8-1-0 in this decade, including a 4-1 mark in Jersey.

Despite that semi-recent dominance by the Devils, the Blues still hold the series advantage. 53-37-14 is what the Blues record is, though they are just a game under .500 on the road.

These two teams will get their duo of games done with in quick succession. The Blues will be looking to be stingy come the holiday season, with both games in December.

Friday, December 9 will see the Blues go out east. Thursday, December 15 will have the Devils come west to St. Louis.

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The Blues will be attempting to match last year’s performances against New Jersey. St. Louis won both games, taking the home game 5-2 and blanking the Devils 2-0 on their home ice.

Anyone can win any given game. However, the Blues will likely take both games again as the improvements the Devils made don’t seem to have really answered their questions.