I won't be saying anything new here when I characterize the first half of this season as a disaster worse than any nightmare any of us could have imagined, and even significantly worse than the biggest Devil haters out there. But that does not mean we cannot still get a lot of enjoyment out of the 2nd half of the season. I think that starts with a change in mindset for us as fans, which I will touch on later in the post. But here are my 5 goals for the 2nd half that can give us confidence going into next year
- Do not set the record for fewest goals since realignment in the 93/94 Season. In the "modern era" since Commissioner Bettman and the Creation of Eastern and Western Conferences, only 10 teams have scored less than 180 goals for a season. Only 1 scored fewer than 160, the 97/98 Lightning, with 151. The Devils are on pace for 144. It would be a big confidence booster if they can average say 2.6 goals per game for the 2nd half, which would get them to right about 180.
- 45 Points for the 2nd half. Given their performance, there is absolutely no basis to think the team can rebound this much. My reason for hoping they can do so is purely emotional - first it would double their results vs. 1st half and 2nd it would put them at least at close to a playoff pace (assuming 92 ish points is what the 8th place seed will need). For those of you who are concerned about draft picks, even at that rate, Devils are still likely to finish last overall (meaning they will have at worst the 2nd pick) given how far they are behind everyone else.
- Get Ilya Kovalchuck going, scoring 20 goals. I want to see Kovy shooting 5 times every game. A "bad" Kovalchuk shot is still better than a better positioned shot by alot of other players on this team. its not as outrageous as it seems. At a 12% shooting percentage, which is well below his career average, he needs about 170 shots over 40 games. Both stats are about 40% better than his first half, but again, I think this is critical to building momentum for next year
- Have 2 of our young guys really step up and establish themselves as regular roster players next year. My own hope would be Taormina and Tedenby and/or Josefson. We need to know if these guys can fill spots or if there is more FA work to do next summer
- Reduce the defensive breakdowns that have us so bad at 5 on 5. That's a bit non-specific, but Its a critical element of just winning on a somewhat regular basis
That is where we also come in as fans. There has been alot to be critical of. But from this point on, I am going to try to avoid being critical of any individual player. I don't think it does any good at this point, and just further kills this teams confidence. At least one player is going to do something good every game and that is what I am focusing on.