As the San Jose Sharks thrive thus far under Peter DeBoer, his former employer has yet to reap any rewards from its offseason coaching change.
When DeBoer returns to the Prudential Center on Friday night, he’ll be bringing in an unbeaten Sharks team aiming to keep the New Jersey Devils winless under new coach John Hynes.
The Devils fired DeBoer in December, 36 games into a third consecutive non-playoff season that followed an unexpected Stanley Cup Finals run he oversaw in 2012. The 47-year-old was hired by San Jose (3-0-0) in May in hopes of turning around a franchise viewed as having underachieved in recent years under Todd McClellan.
The short-term results have been terrific, with the Sharks producing a league-best plus-11 goal differential in victories over Los Angeles, Anaheim and Washington.
DeBoer isn’t the only newcomer making an impact. Goaltender Martin Jones has turned aside 77 of 78 shots in the three wins and posted a second straight shutout when San Jose began a four-game East Coast trip with Tuesday’s 5-0 victory over the Alex Ovechkin-less Capitals.
Jones, a backup in Los Angeles the past two seasons and acquired from Boston in June, owns a 178:11 scoreless streak that is 45 seconds shy of surpassing teammate Alex Stalock’s team record set in January 2014.
DeBoer said he plans to start Stalock either Friday or in Saturday’s game at the New York Islanders.
Jones will draw a fourth straight start, but Logan Couture won’t be in Friday’s lineup and could be lost for up to six weeks after breaking his leg in Thursday’s practice. Couture was second among Sharks players in goals (27) and points (67) last season.
The Sharks called up 2014 first-round pick Nikolay Goldobin from the AHL.
”He has a ton of skill,” DeBoer said of Goldobin. ”He creates offense whenever he is on the ice, things are happening offensively. He also has a commitment to learning the game away from the puck.”
Couture has just one assist but nine other San Jose players have notched goals, with the fourth line of Chris Tierney, Mike Brown and Barclay Goodrow accounting for two scores against Washington.
"We got great depth contributions (Tuesday)," DeBoer said. "That’s part of having a deep lineup is different nights you get different lines that are contributing, and that’s a key to any team having success in this league."
In contrast, New Jersey (0-3-0) has struggled to generate consistent scoring chances, mustering five goals in losing its first three games under Hynes.
The Devils did outshoot Nashville Tuesday but surrendered both a power-play and short-handed goal in a 3-1 home defeat. New Jersey, 0-6-1 in its last seven dating back to last season, is just 7 for 11 on the penalty kill.
"I think this is a desperate time for us, even if it is the beginning of the season," defenseman Adam Larsson said. "We want to win and get a good feeling in here."
Cory Schneider missed Tuesday’s game as his wife gave birth to the couple’s first child but will start Friday. He owns a 3.39 goals-against average in 10 starts against San Jose but made 34 saves in a 5-2 road win on January 19 that stopped New Jersey’s four-game series losing streak.
The Sharks have won three straight at the Prudential Center. Couture and Joe Pavelski each had a goal and two assists in a 4-2 victory there on Oct. 18, 2014.