New Jersey Devils Survive Late Push In Season Opener

Oct 15, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86) celebrates his goal with teammates after the game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 15, 2021; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86) celebrates his goal with teammates after the game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /
facebooktwitterreddit

The New Jersey Devils opened up the regular season against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night to a sold-out, loud and excited crowd in New Jersey. The team has some expectations this year and after so many down seasons it is fantastic to see that people are still coming out to support the team we all love.

The Devils overall played a great game and had the effort level needed while also missing some key pieces. Starter Mackenzie Blackwood missed the first game but is expected to skate as soon as tomorrow which is good news and heart player and part-time wrecking ball Miles Wood missed the first game with a lower-body injury. The two biggest gaps in the lineup however were Severson and Smith, last year’s top pairing who were both out but hopefully will return against the Kraken.

The Good

Dougie Hamilton came as advertised and was 100% the guy he has been for years. His hockey IQ is ridiculous and with his large frame and stick work, he really kept players out of scoring position and turned back numerous rushes just with his presence. On top of that, he scored the fastest goal to start a season for the Devils which is always nice, and was tied for the team hits lead which is surprising. It really can not be overstated how big this signing will be for the franchise for the next eight years.

Jack Hughes has always had the talent as Devils fans know, despite many other franchises fans trying to write him off as the next Yakupov and this will be the year they take notice. He is showing that confidence more and more when the puck is on his stick and just like late last season looks like the kid from the national development program who was breaking records. The patience and confidence in his overtime goal was something to behold and the stick flip into the crowd was a nice touch as he shared the moment with fans and teammates.

Andreas Johnsson took a lot of grief last year, but in his 11 minutes, there were a lot of positives. He had three golden opportunities and despite missing a breakaway he did not hang his head or sulk but instead just kept at it like the player he was in Toronto. There was some fire in his game for the first time in black and red and if he fights for pucks in the corner playing with some edge maybe there is some hope for him yet.

Dawson Mercer had a very solid game building on his preseason and if this continues will be sticking it out long term. He got his first point in his first game which is impressive and could have had a goal to go along with it. What was the most noticeable about him however was the lack of rookie mistakes and his poise on ice despite taking a four-minute high sticking penalty? None of the pressure looked to get to him and the game was in no way to fast for him. While it is only one game there is a legit middle-six forward coming sooner rather than later.

The Bad

PK Subban and Jonas Siegenthaler looked overwhelmed at times and need to slow things down a bit on the ice. They shouldn’t and won’t be in this position for long, fortunately, but if the Devils do run into injury trouble having either in the top 4 won’t be pretty. Subban especially made some bad plays and finished the night with a whopping 5 giveaways while the pairing were the only minus players on the team.

The Devils’ next game is against the expansion Seattle Kraken and a home game so they need to continue the momentum and come out hard to go 2-0. A fast start will be key to a playoff push in this division so crushing an expansion team is a must. The Devils could also be boasting a full lineup which would put them in a great spot against a lacking roster and with everyone playing in the right spot we will see what this team is made of.