New Jersey Devils: 5 Most Important Players When They Return To The Ice

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 19: Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils celebrates his second goal of the second period at 8:38 against Alexandar Georgiev #40 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 19, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 19: Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils celebrates his second goal of the second period at 8:38 against Alexandar Georgiev #40 of the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on January 19, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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New Jersey Devils
Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils expect to get back to playing this week. Who are the players most important to their contention?

Finally, it looks like the New Jersey Devils are about to return to the ice. In fact, multiple reports say they will be returning to the practice ice on Monday. This is obviously the news most Devils fans have been waiting for. As of this writing, there are still 13 Devils’ players on the COVID-19 protocol list, but that’s expected to change sometime on Sunday.

Now, we can stop talking about the Devils on the COVID-19 protocol list and start talking about the team on the ice.

The Devils have quite the hill to climb when they return. If they somehow play Tuesday’s game against the New York Rangers, then they will have something like 47 games to play in 82 days. That schedule includes nine back-to-back games, eight weeks with four games, and a schedule where they still have to play the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals eight times.

It’s clear some of the Devils players have to step up if this season continues to show progress. The Devils lost some of the momentum that could have come from that Sunday win against the Buffalo Sabres, but they also had time to get some players back in the lineup. Now, they’ll be closer to fully healthy than they have been all season, which is ironic since they are just coming out of an outbreak.

The Devils need a lot to go right for the team to be contenders, but it’s all right there. They can actually put it together and fight for a playoff spot. This is an incredibly tough division, and it appears the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers are well on their way to taking two of the four playoffs spots.

It’s too early to look at standings, but just as a point of reference, the Devils are five points behind the New York Islanders, who own the fourth playoff spot. They also have four games at hand, which is a major positive. If these five players either continue their progression or straight-up breakout, then this could be a really interesting team come playoff time.