New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff has taken a bold step in addressing his team’s lackluster performance in their playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Devils currently trail 3-1 in the series, with their most recent loss in Game 4 being a 6-1 blowout. Despite being outshot only 29-22 by the Hurricanes, the Devils were unable to find their footing on the ice.
Ruff faced criticism for his decision to start goaltender Vitek Vanecek over Akira Schmid in Game 4, as Schmid had been performing better throughout the playoffs. Vanecek’s underwhelming performance saw him make just 12 saves on 17 shots. However, Ruff’s post-game comments placed the blame squarely on the entire team’s lack of cohesion and support.
“Standing still, making East-West plays, we’re not going North, we’re not supporting. It’s simple as that. We had guys who just went rogue, you can call that lack of experience, even the power play turned into one man trying to do something and then the next man trying to do something. There was no support, no team effort, we’re a good team when five guys play and support each other,” said Ruff.
With their backs against the wall, the Devils need to regroup and refocus if they want to avoid elimination. Ruff’s public callout of his team’s performance is a risky move but could potentially serve as the wake-up call the Devils need to turn the series around.