Weathered the Storm
After dislocating his shoulder in a contest against the Seattle Kraken six weeks ago, the Devils season seemed as if it was about to go downhill. Instead, over the six weeks without their former 1st overall pick, the Devils survived. They went 8-6-4 with some big wins against the Panthers and Lightning, and in the process, they managed to either battle back or take the lead in the 3rd period nine times over the 18 games. Now, the Devils sit two points out of a wild card spot and are primed to go on a run with their top offensive talent returning to a lineup.
There’s no telling what lineup moves Lindy Ruff will make, but it’s easier to guess his compared to the lines John Hynes would make.
All I can say is, if the Devils are going to have the luxury of rolling the Mercer line against third liners, this team is going to cause some problems. These aren’t your old New Jersey Devils; this team has depth and a lot of it for the first time in a long time. They have three centers, who all play a different game style, and can beat you in different ways. Even their fourth line is solid. By getting big Nate Bastian back, it’s as big as any trade deadline acquisition they can make this year. The Devils lack size and hitting ability, both of which Nater brings. Not to mention, he’s already one of the more beloved players on the team inside and outside the locker room. While it’s the same lineup from opening night, this one has a different feel. Now knowing what type of player Dawson Mercer is and knowing last year’s Andreas Johnsson was a fluke, this team is better than the one on opening night by a mile.
You can only play who’s on the schedule
It’s never too early into the season to take a peek to see if the Devils December schedule is merry or not, and to Devils fans’ delight, it is. Over the Devils’ next 15 games, they play only five teams who sit in a playoff spot, two of those games being against Pittsburgh. They play teams like the Senators, Sabres, and Canadiens, who combined, have a -66-goal differential. Also, in that stretch, they only play their divisional opponents five times. Between Hughes coming back and this soft upcoming schedule, the Devils sit in a good spot. Over the next week, they play San Jose at the rock, then head out west to Minnesota to get redemption against the Wild, finished off by a date with the Winnipeg Jets.
“Photo: NJDevils Twitter”