“Hughes” Tilt On Tap in Vancouver for the Devils

Photo: @_quinnhughes on Instagram

After a tough and disappointing 6-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Friday night, December 1st, the New Jersey Devils will be back at it on Tuesday night, December 5th in Vancouver to take on the league’s fourth-best team in the Canucks.

The Devils need to start returning to their winning ways because the longer they play inconsistent hockey, the more losses will keep piling up. When you put inconsistent hockey and losses together you have a team that could miss the playoffs.

Several storylines are worth mentioning regarding this tilt between the two clubs. Let’s dive into them:

1) A Battle of the Hughes Brothers
This is an obvious one, eh? Tuesday night’s game will mark the first occasion that all three Hughes brothers will be on the ice in an NHL game.

What is great about this is that all three brothers are having a lot of success this season. Vancouver Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes is having a magnificent season as he currently (As of Monday night, December 4th) has 34 points (nine goals and 25 assists), which puts him tied with Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar for the lead in scoring among NHL defenseman (also fifth in the whole league scoring-wise).

Devils franchise player Jack Hughes is having another outstanding season as he is currently tenth in the league in scoring with 30 points (nine goals and 21 assists) in just 17 games. He is also second in the league in points per game at 1.76.

Devils rookie defenseman Luke Hughes is also having an impressive season. He has 14 points (3 goals and 11 assists) in 22 games and is currently second among NHL rookies in points and first among rookie defensemen with 10 takeaways while averaging 19:54 of ice time.     

It will be interesting to see who wins the first of hopefully many battles between the trio.

2) The Devils Need to Get Better Goaltending
For starters, the Devils need much better goaltending than they have been getting so far this season. Vitek Vanecek is currently 8-5 with a 3.49 goals-against average and a .879 save percentage, while Akira Schmid is currently 3-5-0-1 with a 3.27 goals-against average and a .891 save percentage.

Vanecek and Schmid seem to struggle when they do not face a lot of shots. For example, in the Devils’ win over the New York Islanders last week, Vanecek allowed four goals on just 18 shots. Just three nights earlier in a win over the Buffalo Sabres, he allowed two goals on just 12 shots.

Schmid has struggled with the same issue this season. In his team’s loss to the Sharks on Friday night, December 1st, he allowed five goals on just 17 shots.

Goaltenders like to feel the puck. Unfortunately, this sometimes means that they struggle when they go extended periods without facing a shot.

3) The Devils Need to Be Better Defensively
The Devils have been terrible this season in terms of their defensive play. The team is currently 24th in the league in goals allowed, as they give up an average of close to four goals per game (3.73). You are not going to win a lot of games allowing that many goals, and the Devils are learning that the hard way this season.

Things will not get any easier when they take on the Canucks on Tuesday night. The Canucks have been an offensive powerhouse so far this season, as they are currently first in the league in goals scored with 96 in 25 games, which means they are averaging close to four goals per game (3.86). 

The Canucks currently have five players with at least 25 points this season. J.T. Miller (36 points on 13 goals and 23 assists), Quinn Hughes (34 points on nine goals and 25 assists), Elias Pettersson (32 points on 10 goals and 22 assists), Brock Boeser (28 points on 17 goals and 11 assists), and Filip Hronek (23 points on two goals and 21 assists) have all been contributing at a high rate this season for their hockey club.

4) The Devils Cannot Continue to Slip Further in the Standings
If the Devils can get better goaltending, play well defensively in front of either Vanecek or Schmid, and the team can get offense from Hughes and others, they might have a chance of beating one of the league’s top clubs. If they cannot, look for the team to continue to slip away in what is a very tight Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
  2. Episode 7. Player Safety First!
  3. Episode 6. Early Trade Season
  4. Episode 5. Longing For The Chiarelli Years
  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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