While it's a small population size, it's always important to look at puck possession. Looking deeper into the Devils possession numbers shows that the Devils problems early on are somewhat... interesting
Puck possession is probably one of the most important parts of hockey for a couple of reasons- the most obvious being that if you don't get the puck on net, how are you going to score? While it's only been a few games, taking a look at the team's puck possession numbers at even strength should help us paint a better picture of the first few games.
Two guys have been dominating other players- Patrik Elias (21.06 Corsi ON) and David Clarkson (17.10 Corsi ON). They've been doing it against tough competition nonetheless, which does make it more impressive. Henrik Tallinder (12.13 Corsi ON) has had good numbers, but he's been up against pretty weak competition so far.
Other than those three, no one is really standing out in a good way. most of the guys are either slightly positive or slightly negative in terms of corsi numbers. The guys who aren't looking so great- Steven Gionta, Ryan Carter, Jacob Josefson and Ilya Kovalchuk. The first three are somewhat understandable- they've been mismatched for pretty much every single game (or for Josefson, any time he's not playing in the top 6). On the other hand, Kovalchuk's situation has been pretty interesting. His shots for/60 at ES is incredibly low. Not only that, but the Devils are averaging 5 missed shots/60 when he's on the ice. While it does seem alarming, i'm not worrying yet. He's had a revolving door of linemates and he's also been double shifted with 4th liners (which might explain the lack of shots generated as well). Bryce Salvador is the worst defenseman, getting destroyed by poor competition. But hey, at least he's signed for another two more years *drinks*.
Again- while it's a small sample size, the Devils aren't doing so well in terms of Close score fenwick. They're below average at 49.67- which is good in the sense that it could be worse, but at least they're not getting utterly destroyed. What's interesting about the Devils' fenwick numbers so far this season is how they perform at different scores. When the score is tied, the Devils are one of the better possession teams- clocking in at 52.36%. When they're up two goals, they're still a good possession team, albeit that scenario hasn't occured a lot this season. They're not very good with a one goal lead- they're in the bottom half of the league in that regard, which is bad seeing as they've had quite a few one goal games this year, and the trend could continue. On the other side of the coin, the Devils are even worse when down a goal- in fact, they're the worst fenwick team in the league when down a goal (somewhere, Zach Parise is telling his BFF about small miracles because Minnesota is slightly better). This of course, isn't good- when a team is down a goal, they tend to be the aggressors. Again, while it's a small population size, it's a disturbing trend. Because the Devils haven't spent a lot of time down two goals, looking at the fenwick when their down two isn't going to be of much help. Regardless, they're pretty awful in that regard.
With all that being said, should we be worried about the team's performance over the first few games? To be honest, I am somewhat worried. If it was an 82 game season, I wouldn't be concerned over eight games. In a 48 game season, that's about a sixth of the games played. Hopefully the Devils can get into form sooner than later, as from what we saw last year, the Devils are a very good team when they're controlling the play.