The crease in New Jersey is eerily empty at the moment.
The New Jerseys Devils are facing a depth problem in net right now, with starter Mackenzie Blackwood being placed in the NHL's COVID-19 protocols on Wednesday morning further in a move that further whittles down the team's goaltending options for the foreseeable future.
Normally, backup netminder Jonathan Bernier would take over for Blackwood while the latter makes his way through protocols. But Bernier is on the shelf with an ailment of his own, as the Devils announced this week that the veteran will miss the rest of the season as he recovers from hip surgery.
So, New Jersey must find the next man up.
Perhaps that could be 21-year-old Akira Schmid, a fifth-round pick from 2018 who has suited up for three games this season. That's not possible either, unfortunately, as Schmid found himself placed in COVID-19 protocols on Tuesday, with Blackwood joining him shortly thereafter.
So, the Devils must now forge ahead with a goaltending duo of Jon Gillies and Nico Daws.
Neither option is all that tantalizing on the surface, with Gillies' save percentage of .864 sitting below Daws' equally putrid .875. Not to mention, these three combine for a grand total of 17 NHL games played throughout their careers, making them one of the most inexperienced goaltending groups in the league.
Daws has the most potential out of his net-bound counterparts, it seems, being a 21-year-old former third-round pick from the 2020 draft who backstopped Team Canada at the 2020 World Junior Championship and put up a .925 save percentage in 10 games with the AHL's Utica Comets this season. But he's still woefully inexperienced and likely wouldn't have even been up with the Devils were it not for pandemic-related absences.
Gillies, on the other hand, is a veteran journeymen, neither of whom have been able to stick at the NHL level for an extended period of time.
So, the Devils are essentially saddled with the options of either throwing a young prospect into the fire before he's likely ready, or moving ahead with a veteran who is lilely better suited for the AHL.
The person tasked with making that decision is not in an enviable spot.