ONE OF THE DEVILS TOP LINES NEED TO STEP UP
The New Jersey Devils (1-0-1) have started the season with some rusty play, if you’d prefer to call it that. Many other words have been used by Devils fans, but we don’t need to get into those. Here is a short explanation as to what might be going on. The one glaring issue after two home games is the line that features the Captain of the team, Nico Hischier. Honestly, Nico has been his same Selke-worthy self in both games so far. However, his line has produced nothing, and they don’t seem to be gelling together yet. I wrote in a previous article my concern about this, and it turns out what I was saying was correct. Allowing Alexander Holtz to play every preseason game with Hischier and Timo Meier gave no time for Mercer to get back together with his linemates and find the click that they absolutely had. Instead, Mercer played third-line shifts all preseason, and now that the season started, he is back in his regular spot, and rightly so; Holtz has been underwhelming, to say the least, again. The problem I unraveled in my last article has now been shown in the light. Playing Mercer without his actual linemates throughout the whole preseason is now showing clearly that the line has not yet got it back together. On the other hand, the line of Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, and Tyler Toffoli didn’t take long to start tearing the ice up. In the home opener, even that line looked shaky despite Hughes’ two goals. If Dawson Mercer played with his line in the preseason, I believe that line would be playing much better right now. Nico, as said before, has been great on the two-way. The production part is the problem, and it can easily be said the preseason lineup debacle could have been the catalyst for their slow start. Many people disagree with this notion, and that is their right. No one should be fighting with each other over a sports game, no matter what. Through two games, which is not much, so this is not an emergency. This is why I say it is just a hump they need to get over. The Hischier line so far has zero points. Let’s see the New Jersey Devils’ top 5 leaders in scoring two games into the season. All players on this list have played both games. Italics indicate players on the same line. The Devils top Defensive pairing is also in the top five so far. We can only hope they get on track after blowing a late lead vs. Arizona.
- 1– JACK HUGHES – G: 2 A: 3 P: 5 +/-: +4 PIM: 4
- 2- JESPER BRATT – G: 2 A: 1 P: 3 +/-: +2 PIM: 2
- 3- DOUGIE HAMILTON – G: 2 A: 1 P: 3 +/-: +1 PIM: 2
- 4- JONAS SIEGENTHALER – G: 0 A: 3 P: 3 +/-: +1 PIM: 2
- 5- TYLER TOFFOLI – G-0 A: 2 P: 2 +/-: +1 PIM: 0
The one place the New Jersey Devils had a worry was their goaltending situation. Rumors about a trade with Winnipeg came up over the offseason, not the best idea. Through two games, although many goals have been scored, both goalies have been pretty much excellent. I have a Devils bias. However, it is not a subjective matter that many of the goals passing the Devils goal line were not a breakdown of the Goaltender but the Defense. There is not much to say so far. In game one, Vitek Vanecek was excellent, even a star of the game, although letting three goals in. Despite those three goals, he kept the Devils in the game early, allowing them to quickly come back and take the win against Detroit. Akira Schmid also made amazing saves in his season debut that ended in a shootout loss. The goals that got passed him in that game were 2/3 defensive breakdowns, and I have to admit that Akira Schmid had one goal he should have, without a doubt, stopped with his blocker. Beyond these instances, there is not much negativity in the Devil’s fanbase about the performance of the goaltenders. Let’s move on to Defense.
DEVILS BACKEND MAY BE PLAYING TOO FANCY
After only two regular season games, it is extremely hard to tell what’s to come in any given season. Devils fans knowing that one big thing was coming their way this season might have put a bit of pressure on Luke Hughes of the Hughes Brothers. As well as he has played, it seems from watching that he may be overdoing the fancy play instead of looking to make a smart pass. Now, of course, we can really understand it is his first full season, and he wanted to come out flying. He has come out flying. The footage of his footwork, speed, and skill is out there already. The belief is just that maybe he should, rather than extend his fancy foot and stickwork, work on looking for the smart pass. In the game against Arizona, Luke Hughes made some incredible plays. The thing is, on one of his best moves of the game, if he had looked to the right, he had a wide-open pass that had a great chance of ending up in the net with everyone focused on covering Luke. These rookies’ mistakes will pass, it’s just a hump. Another funny but noteworthy moment in game two was when Kevin Bahl lined up an Arizona winger flying down the boards, only for Bahl to hipcheck his Captain, Nico Hischier. These things are right now only to be giggled at. If, by the end of the month, this shaky play is still consistent, then maybe we might have a bit of a problem at the Prudential Center.
Check out @DevilsJointYT on X/Twitter for clips of the Luke Hughes and Kevin Bahl plays I referred to and much more content from the arena and more. Also, subscribe to Devils Joint on YouTube, that channel will be up and running this coming week. For now, livestreams, trivia, and giveaways are all on X.