New Jersey Devils: 5 Goals To Achieve For Rest Of Season

New Jersey Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton (7),: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton (7),: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports /
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New Jersey Devils, Utica Comets
Utica Comets goaltender Nico Daws. (Source: Utica Observer Dispatch) /

Push Utica As Far As They Can Go

The New Jersey Devils have already been forced to play a lot of people this season due to injuries and COVID cases. The Devils can play 18 players at forward and defense every game. So far this season, they’ve played 31 different players. The Devils have played 10 different defensemen and 22 different forwards (Mason Geertsen has played both positions). This has caused players like Chase DeLeo, A.J. Greer, Nolan Foote, Fabian Zetterlund, Akira Schmid, and Kevin Bahl to jump into the lineup and out of the Utica Comets lineup.

The Comets have been struggling as of late. After starting the season 13-0 and 18-1-3 going into the New Year, Utica has gone 4-3-1 in January. They are still in first place in the North Division, but they are no longer the top team in the AHL. In fact, both the Chicago Wolves and Stockton Heat blew past them, although both have quite a few games in hand.

We’ve seen some great NHL teams start with a great AHL team. Winning begets winning. If the young players learn how to win in the AHL, then they can bring that philosophy to the NHL. Of course, there is so much more that goes into it, but the Devils desperately need something to hang their hat on. The constant losing at all levels needs to end. They finally have a winner in the minor leagues, and they need to keep that.

Instead of getting some of their younger players NHL experience before they are ready, the Devils should let them learn how to win under Kevin Dineen. The Comets have been destroyed by callups this month, but that is about to change. They got Nico Daws and Akira Schmid back this week. They are getting most of their players back. It’s time to go on another run.