Who takes the blame if the Devils miss the playoffs after going all the way to the Stanley Cup Final last year?

Often, it is the coach, but there are few who think Pete DeBoer is mainly at fault if the Devils miss.

“We’re in a tough spot, but the reason we’re still fighting for a playoff spot is Pete does a good job,” forward Dainius Zubrus said. “We just can’t score. I don’t think a coach can be blamed for that.”

As for DeBoer, he feels he is a better coach than he was during last year’s playoff run.

“Every year brings it’s own challenge and different challenges. I can tell you I think I’m a better coach this year than I was a year ago, even though the record doesn’t reflect that,” DeBoer said.

“I just think it’s because of experience, being a year older and having been around the group for a year and having gotten to know them better. For all those reasons.”

That’s not to say DeBoer is pleased with the job he’s done this season.

“The results aren’t there, so you’re never happy,” he said. “You’re always looking for what else you can do. It’s a results-oriented business and it’s our job to find ways to succeed. So, no I’m not satisfied with where we’re at. Obviously.”

The Devils are 16-17-10 (42 points) and in 11th in the Eastern Conference after 43 games. At the same point last season they were 24-17-2 (50 points) and sixth in the conference.

General manager Lou Lamoriello will be the ultimate judge. He has never been shy about changing coaches, but he shows no indication of being unhappy with DeBoer. Many would say give DeBoer Zach Parise and a few less injuries to key players and the Devils might be fighting for home ice in the playoffs rather than just getting in.