New Jersey Devils Should Ride Hot Hand Of Jon Gillies Right Now

The New Jersey Devils are having a very weird season. Of course, every team in the National Hockey League would probably claim that because of struggles caused by COVID-19. However, it goes beyond that for the Devils. Injuries and inconsistencies caused more losses than wins for Lindy Ruff’s group.

One of the big injuries that this team has dealt with this season is Mackenzie Blackwood. We went into the season with him on the shortlist of goalies that could (before NHL players were backed out) represent Team Canada in the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Because of the heel injury he suffered before the season and illness (COVID-19), he has been inconsistent for most of the season. When he’s been on the ice, he has been bad and it is fair to wonder if the injury is ruining his season. In his place, however, Jon Gillies has been decent when given the opportunity.

His numbers are certainly not great as he has a 3.23 goals-against average and .897 save percentage in five games played this season. He has a 1-3-1 win-loss record, which is bad. However, his play over the weekend against the Carolina Hurricanes and Los Angeles Kings gave New Jersey a chance to win. He played in two straight games, something he’s never done at the NHL level.

Jon Gillies is the hot hand in the net right now for the New Jersey Devils.

In the Saturday night game against the Canes, he allowed four goals but he made just enough saves to allow the Devils to win the game by a score of 7-4. It was one of those games where he needed to do just enough to support an offensive outburst.

The next night, Blackwood and the team made the decision for him to be the backup because of his injury. He was good enough to do that but not start. That gave Gillies the second start in as many nights.

The game against the Kings didn’t go as smooth for the Devils. Gillies, however, gave his team a chance to win by making 34 saves on 37 shots. It isn’t his fault that the team had a bad effort late in the game which allowed the Kings to win it.

He is by no means the answer in goal. Blackwood, even though his current struggles, is the guy that the Devils hope prevails in the end. However, while he is working through some stuff, Gillies is the hot hand that the Devils should ride. Blackwood’s health should be the top priority in terms of goaltending for the rest of the season.

The Devils are back in action Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. It is hard to see Gillies going again after playing in both games this past weekend. Blackwood was good enough to be the backup on Sunday so you never know how that works.

With that said, if Blackwood wants to take it slow, using Gillies (the hot hand right now) would be a good idea. With guys like Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, and Jesper Bratt amongst others rolling offensively right now, he just needs to be solid in the net to give the team a chance to win.