New Jersey Devils: Nikita Gusev Continues To Improve

(Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)"n"n"n
(Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)"n"n"n /

The New Jersey Devils are trying to improve as a team every single game and Nikita Gusev is one player that is complying with that mentality every day.

The New Jersey Devils played a hard game against John Hynes and the Nashville Predators. Both teams trailed at different points of the game but neither gave up either. The Devils are much farther out of the playoffs than then Predators are but they still showed they can be that scrappy team that gives teams fits. They are going to be one of those teams that can try to be a spoiler down the stretch.

They lost in the shootout 6-5 to Nashville, but not for a lack of effort. Nikita Gusev scored in regulation and in the shootout. It was remarkably his fifth goal in the shootout on seven attempts. He is showing himself as one of the best in the league at the shootout. Hopefully, that part of his game can continue if they Devils ever get good around him.

He was also an impact player once again during actual play. He is the best player on New Jersey’s second power-play unit and that is where he scored his goal. The scouting report on Gusev coming out of the KHL was his past first mentality but he certainly can score some goals as well. The power-play goal was his ninth goal of the season. He struggled in his own end early on but he is really coming around. It is fair to expect 2020-21 to be a big year offensively for him.

Nico Hischier also showed once again that he is really coming along. He made an incredible play of strength when he was able to feed Pavel Zacha for a short-handed goal. Hischier’s ability to turn his defensive game into offense on that play is exactly what we want to see from him. The Devils are building for the future and Hischier is perhaps the biggest part of it. He has been creating high danger chances for his teammates with regularity in the past month or so.

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Jesper Bratt has also been a little bit more impressive lately. He seems to do great when he plays on the top line with Hischier and Kyle Palmieri. The Devils need Bratt to be good in order to have a chance. His future with New Jersey is questioned sometimes but when he plays his game the right way he can be a very effective player.

The Devils get to continue their home cooking on Saturday night when the Dallas Stars come to Newark. The Stars had an awful start to the season but have since picked it up to look like that Stanley Cup contender we thought they would be. The Devils are going to need to have their A-game in order to compete with Dallas.