02/23/2024

BUF:

2

CBJ:

1

Final

WPG:

3

CHI:

2

Final

MIN:

4

EDM:

2

Final

02/24/2024

STL:

1

DET:

6

Final

MTL:

3

NJD:

4

Final

TBL:

4

NYI:

2

Final

NYR:

2

PHI:

1

Final

WSH:

2

FLA:

3

Final

TOR:

4

COL:

3

Final

VGK:

3

OTT:

4

Final

BOS:

2

VAN:

3

Final

DAL:

2

CAR:

1

Final

CGY:

6

EDM:

3

Final

MIN:

5

SEA:

2

Final

NSH:

4

SJS:

2

Final

ANA:

2

LAK:

3

Final

02/25/2024

TBL:

4

NJD:

1

Final

PHI:

6

PIT:

7

Final

CAR:

2

BUF:

3

Final

NYR:

2

CBJ:

4

Final

DET:

3

CHI:

2

Final

ARI:

3

WPG:

4

Final

NSH:

4

ANA:

2

Final

02/26/2024

OTT:

0

WSH:

0

07:00 ET

NYI:

0

DAL:

0

08:00 ET

LAK:

0

EDM:

0

09:30 ET

BOS:

0

SEA:

0

10:00 ET

02/27/2024

WSH:

0

DET:

0

07:00 ET

BUF:

0

FLA:

0

07:00 ET

ARI:

0

MTL:

0

07:00 ET

TBL:

0

PHI:

0

07:00 ET

VGK:

0

TOR:

0

07:00 ET

CAR:

0

MIN:

0

08:00 ET

OTT:

0

NSH:

0

08:00 ET

STL:

0

WPG:

0

08:00 ET

LAK:

0

CGY:

0

09:00 ET

DAL:

0

COL:

0

09:30 ET

PIT:

0

VAN:

0

10:00 ET

NJD:

0

SJS:

0

10:30 ET

02/28/2024

CBJ:

0

NYR:

0

07:00 ET

STL:

0

EDM:

0

08:30 ET

02/29/2024

VGK:

0

BOS:

0

07:00 ET

CAR:

0

CBJ:

0

07:00 ET

NYI:

0

DET:

0

07:00 ET

MTL:

0

FLA:

0

07:00 ET

BUF:

0

TBL:

0

07:00 ET

ARI:

0

TOR:

0

07:00 ET

WPG:

0

DAL:

0

08:00 ET

MIN:

0

NSH:

0

08:00 ET

COL:

0

CHI:

0

09:00 ET

PIT:

0

SEA:

0

10:00 ET

LAK:

0

VAN:

0

10:00 ET

ANA:

0

SJS:

0

10:30 ET

The Devils Have a Big Vanecek Problem

Vitek Vanecek in net
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

When one looks at the New Jersey Devils roster, he or she probably sees a team that should make the Stanley Cup playoffs.

They have solid offensive depth, a decent defensive corps, and goaltending that should be more than good enough to get the team to the postseason. Heck, the Devils thrived on all of those last season when they finished second in the Metropolitan Division, third in the Eastern Conference, and third in the NHL.

Many hockey pundits and fans alike figured that that would end up being the same case this season. The Devils came into this year’s campaign with much of the same roster and a team looking to prove to folks that last season was not a fluke.

Unfortunately for the Devils and their fans, they are in the middle of a somewhat disappointing season. As of this writing (Monday, January 29th), the team is sixth in their division, 11th in their conference, 21st in the league, and six points out of the second Wild Card spot, which is currently being held by the Detroit Red Wings.

One of the main reasons for the team’s regression this season has been the play of their goaltenders. The team has used three goaltenders this season, and they have all done a poor job of doing what they are supposed to do, which is stop pucks and win hockey games.

The prime example of this is the play of the team’s starting goaltender, Vitek Vanecek. Vanecek, 28, is currently 16-8-0-2 with a 3.24 goals-against average and a .886 save percentage.

Believe it or not, this is the same goaltender who had a tremendous season last year for the Devils. He finished the 2022-23 season with a record of 33-11-0-4 to go along with a 2.45 goals-against average, a .911 save percentage, and three shutouts.

Vanecek does not look anything close to the goaltender he was last season. For starters, he allows a lot of soft goals.

He gives up goals where his angles are off, the rebounds are juicy, and he is not set in his position to stop the puck. It is easy to see why his goals-against average is where it is.

Secondly, he is making things difficult for himself. He is all over the place after he stops the puck, and the pucks that he stopped last season are going in this season.

Something else that has hurt Vanecek this season has been the play in front of him. The Devils are currently 27th in the league in goals allowed as they have given up 167 goals in 47 games (3.55 goals against per game).

If the Devils want to get into the playoffs and then have success in them, something needs to change in a hurry when it comes to Vanecek and the team’s goaltending as a whole. With the trade deadline quickly approaching (Friday, March 8th, 2024), it may be time to go outside of the organization to get the goaltending that they need in order to be successful or ride it out with Vanecek and hope that he regains last season’s form.

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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