It was easy for the outside world to believe such low expectations. Following a trip to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, the Devils have missed the playoffs three straight seasons and bottomed out last season with a punchless offense finishing 27th in the NHL at 2.15 goals per game. The 27-year reign of president and GM Lou Lamoriello ended with 78 points and a 25th-place finish.
Shero took over with a clean slate and hired coach John Hynes, who he was familiar with from his time with the Pittsburgh Penguins, to introduce a fresh ideology. Shero issued a challenge to the players to defy the experts, especially those who predicted the Devils to finish 30th in 2015-16.
To date, the Devils are penning a story nobody saw coming. They're 11-5-0 since a 0-3-1 start when they were outscored 13-6. Scoring is up, goalie Cory Schneider is playing like an MVP, and morale in the locker room is high. The desire to dig in and work hard started in the summer and held ground even after the slow start, and that has Hynes leading the race for the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year.