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The Devils ’21-22 season is coming to an end, and with only seven games to play, you might as well tough it out and watch the rest of the games. You never know; maybe some of the young kids will catch you by surprise. Maybe you want to watch Jesper Bratt and Nico Hischier blossom into elite talent, maybe you want to see if Mackenzie Blackwood comes back and returns to form, or maybe you’re just a sucker for pain.

The games may be painful to watch, considering the Devils are depleted, and the goaltending situation hasn’t gotten better, but they’re still worth a watch.

Nico Hischier’s rise 

I’ve been banging this drum throughout his entire career, and I finally seem like a sane hockey fan; Nico Hischier is elite. 

Since the start of February, Hischier has gone nuclear, posting well over a point per game pace. He may not be as flashy as Hughes and Bratt, which is why he’s gotten no recognition. He’s a better all-around player than them. If you follow Nico during the game, he’ll impress you in the defensive zone or with his playmaking ability. It took a while, but Nico Hischier has finally arrived, and his two-way dominance will cause you to realize the Devils are set down the middle for a long time.

Bratt’s point pace

For the first time since Taylor Hall did it in 2017-18, a Devil has broken the 70-point threshold, that being Jesper Bratt. He could also be the first Devil to produce at or over a point per game pace since Hall as well. 

After a recent four-game pointless streak, it felt surreal not seeing Bratt’s name on the score sheet. But now, he’s back to normal, having posted five points in five games. 

Although he and Hischier aren’t on a line anymore, the two continue to play well even without each other. The two have instilled a lot of hope in this Devils fanbase that wasn’t there at the beginning of the season. 

For the first time in a while, the Devils have an elite offensive player, and as a matter of fact, they have two, if not three of them. And when you have elite talent, they’re enough by themselves to watch a game.

Blackwood’s possible return

During this most recent trip out west, goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood skated with the team for the first time since the middle of January. While he hasn’t suited up for any of these games, there is still a good chance he makes a start or two before the season comes to a close.

While the last two seasons have been rough for Blackwood, this is the same guy who people were saying in the same breath as Shesterkin. 

Since his first two seasons, it hasn’t gone great, but he’s still 25 years old. I could see the Devils shutting him down for the rest of the year, considering they forced him back into the lineup when he was injured once before this season. 

If the Devils want this rebuild to come to an end, they need Blackwood to be the goaltender he had shown he could be. If not, a trade for another goaltender could hurt the prospect pool. If the Devils do play him, every Devils fan should be glued to their tv, praying Blackwood shows some flashes.

Photo: Getty Images

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