New Jersey Devils: Expect the worst but hope for the best

New Jersey Devils. Keith Kinkaid (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
New Jersey Devils. Keith Kinkaid (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils are coming off a historic season. However, that does not mean expectations should be too high this season.

The New Jersey Devils were not supposed to be a playoff team last season, They had just won the draft lottery and were only supposed to show something, not make the playoffs.

However, all things went well and they found themselves in the playoffs. It was a great season and they even had their first MVP ever in Taylor Hall. Let’s just plug that for no reason.

But, one thing is for sure, the Devils were never supposed to be there.

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Hall came out of nowhere to emerge as the league’s best player and Nico Hischier, their coveted first selection, never failed to show he had a long learning process.

But, that is exactly the issue.

The expectations for the Devils are still not overall hight, at least to me. However, they are still coming off a season in which they made the playoffs.

So, that does not mean we should all of a sudden expect all of that to happens again. There are things last season that happened that helped pave the way.

For example, the Florida Panthers came on strong towards the end of the year but ran out of time.

The Carolina Hurricanes, they too were just not close enough yet to make it, but at some point showed to be a threat to beat the Devs.

Even the New York Islanders and the New York Rangers had seasons in which they underwhelmed and proved to be less than what the Devils thought.

That is not a bad thing. The Devils rode the hot hand they had and beat out the Eastern Conference just enough to make the playoffs.

They shattered expectations and got it done. They went even further and won a game in their first-round series vs the Lightning.

However, it still feels as if that was an accident.

The Devils still do not have it altogether in terms of what they want. Is Cory Schneider their goalie or is it Keith Kinkaid?

Can anyone else match the production of Taylor Hall and give him a compliment and create a duo unmatched by most in the league?

Will the teams that failed to leap-frog the Devs last season be good enough to actually be better than them this season?

All of those things are to be determined. However, the fact that there are even this many moving parts already shows the Devils have a tough hill to climb.

There is no reason to not be thrilled about what the Devils did last year. They accomplished great things and went farther than they should have.

However, it is not asking for much to think that the expectation should be lower this year.

This is not to say they cannot make the playoffs. This is not to say they will not exceed expectations again.

They can do this year exactly what they did last year and shock the world.

However, to expect that many teams around them to be that bad again is asking for a lot. To ask Taylor Hall to be the MVP again is a lot,

Teams around the Devils got better and the Devils still trying to build their long-term picture. They are far from a finished product and just so happened to slip a playoff berth in there.

So, whatever happens, this year is still part of that plan. That plan to contend for a long time, not just make the playoffs.

2018-2019 is still that window to develop and take the hit on potential learning curves.

So, it is fine to expect the Devils to shock the world again, but it is also fine to understand the trajectory of what they are doing.

The Devils can only control how good they are, not how good everyone else is. It just seems like there are other teams who are trying to be better than them this year. By that I mean all-in on the present, unlike the Devs.

The Devils are building something real. They even touched a small part of that potential last year. However, they still might be years away. That is not a bad thing.

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However, they are still far from a threat to make the noise in the East. That is the expectation. It would take shocking the world once again to think otherwise.