4 X factors who could push their team to NHL playoffs (Eastern Conference)

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 9: Seth Jones
COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 9: Seth Jones /
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NEWARK, NJ – MARCH 24: Keith Kinkaid
NEWARK, NJ – MARCH 24: Keith Kinkaid /

New Jersey Devils X-factor: Keith Kinkaid

Starting goaltender Cory Schneider’s recent struggles have been swept under the mat due to backup Keith Kinkaid’s solid play.

The New Jersey Devils are a team almost completely filled with X factors. Behind star Taylor Hall, who has 86 points on the season, the next closest Devil is Nico Hischier, with 50. A case could be made for multiple Devils to be X factors come the final games of the season, but Kinkaid has stepped up when other players in his positions have faltered.

In a season where Schneider has struggled both with performance and injuries, a void was left in the Devils’ crease. Insert Kinkaid, who has stepped up big time to post a 22-10-3 record, with a 2.89 GAA and .910 save percentage.

Schnieder, on the other hand, has posted a 17-15-6 record, with a 2.88 GAA and .909 save percentage. Although their personal GAA and save percentages are similar, Kinkaid’s record is drastically better then Schneider’s. The Devils seem to play a more confident game in front of Kinkaid.

Of late, Schneider’s play has has been dismal. He has lost nine straight starts, and although he has struggled with injuries, he literally hasn’t won a game since last year. His last win came on December 27. Kinkaid, on the other hand, has won 9 of his last 11 starts, and has showed potential that he can be a staring goalie in this league.

This is Kinkaid’s crease come the final playoff push. He is this team’s X factor. If the Devils want to be a postseason-caliber team, Kinkaid will need to continue to build on his recent performance to lead an underrated Devils team to the playoffs.