Resilient Weekend for New Jersey Devils

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 14: Nico Hischier #13 of the New Jersey Devils celebrates while laying on the ice after scoring the game winning goal in overtime against the Vegas Golden Knights at Prudential Center on December 14, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Golden Knoghts 5-4. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 14: Nico Hischier #13 of the New Jersey Devils celebrates while laying on the ice after scoring the game winning goal in overtime against the Vegas Golden Knights at Prudential Center on December 14, 2018 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Golden Knoghts 5-4. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The weekend began with the worst possible hockey related news a New Jersey Devils fan could hear. Taylor Hall is injured with something wrong in the lower body, and he would not play Friday night against the Vegas Golden Knights and is questionable to travel to Nashville to take on the Predators. Spoiler: he played in neither game.

How could the Devils luck get any worse? Team and league MVP Taylor Hall is out of the lineup for a back to back against two top teams in the Western Conference. Things were looking bleak already.

It was even worse when the Vegas Golden Knights were up in the hockey game by a score of 4-1. Cory Schneider looked like he doesn’t belong on an NHL roster in net and was relieved by Keith Kinkaid. Then, some things happened to make this the most memorable game. Miles Wood, Kyle Palmieri, and Brett Seney scored to tie the game. It was a Christmas miracle that the Devils were able to come all the way back and force overtime.

In overtime, the Devils and their fans got exactly that they wanted to see from our golden boy, Nico Hischier. He scored in overtime to complete the comeback and the Devils won 5-4! Nico has had some issues with shooting the puck and choosing to pass. He was doing this to a fault. He is a great passer of the puck but sometime he needs to get it on net! Marcus Johansson put Nico in a great position all alone with the puck and he tucked it in. It was the most exciting game of the Devils’ season so far.

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Maybe they could carry this momentum into the second half of a back to back vs the Nashville Predators. Well, they spend most of the game in Nashville in either a scoreless tie or losing 1-0. That was until Brian Boyle tied it with less than two minute left in the game. Overtime was much less exciting as neither team saw a hero end it and Nashville took the second point in the extra rounds of the shootout.

Three out of a possible four points vs two elite teams, all without Taylor Hall. None of that is the main takeaway from the weekend. The Devils in all seriousness, could have left the weekend with no points and two more regulation losses added to their record. That would have left the playoff comeback even more unlikely than it already is. This weekend showed me resiliency. They never view themselves as out of a game. They play for each other and their coach, regardless of how things have gone.

If this is how they view themselves in each individual game, then they have no reason to also view themselves like this as a whole and their chances to come back and make the post season. They should be better than they were in the month of November, they are better than some of the teams ahead of them in the standings, and that’s how they should view it. This team is not dead yet.

The heat keeps being thrown at the New Jersey Devils as the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Rock on Tuesday, December 18th. With Auston Matthews, Mitch Mariner, John Tavares already on roster and resigning forward William Nylander right in time before he would have had to sit out for the season, the Devils will have their hands full defensively. Look for the Devils to make a statement, as they were destroyed by the Leafs earlier in the season.