Devils Off to Hot Start and Rock October

Oct 22, 2022; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New Jersey Devils center Yegor Sharangovich (17) celebrates a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Salus-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 22, 2022; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New Jersey Devils center Yegor Sharangovich (17) celebrates a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Salus-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s a small sample size, obviously, but through their first nine games this season – the New Jersey Devils are good? They’ve now won six of seven after dropping their first two games, and as they shimmy into the next portion of their schedule, they are positioned (this is the key word) to remain in the mix for a playoff spot. The Metropolitan Division is always stacked, and this season will be no different, so tighten your buttcheeks, Devils fans, because this will not be easy.

The schedule gets tougher in November. Much tougher. A home-and-home with Calgary, two games vs. Edmonton and Toronto, and one of the three teams that have beaten New Jersey, the Capitals, return to the Rock. That said, there have been a whole lot of positives through nine games.

The penalty kill has been stellar, highlighted by a 6-for-6 performance against the defending Stanley Cup champions last Friday, and ranks fourth in the NHL heading into November. They’ve been shorthanded 29 times and only surrendered two goals going into Tuesday night’s tilt.

Of the 21 skaters who have played in at least one game for New Jersey this season, only three (Brendan Smith, Kevin Bahl, Jesper Boqvist) have yet to record a point.

Jesper Bratt is proving that last season was no fluke. He leads the team in points (15), and assists (11) and has at least one point in nine straight games to start the season. He is one game shy of tying the franchise record for consecutive games with a point to start the season (Tim Higgins) and has already set a new career-high with the nine-game point streak. Bratt starts November fifth in the NHL scoring race behind some guys named McDavid, Pastrnak, Draisaitl, and Panarin.

The goaltending has been much better (again, small sample size) and has been the type of performance the Devils will need to contend for a playoff spot. Vitek Vanecek is looking like a steal of a deal for GM Tom Fitzgerald – not only is he 3-1-0 with one shutout already, but he is going to push Mackenzie Blackwood (3-2-0) for playing time. This is a good problem to have.

The only real negative is that winger Ondrej Palat played in only six games (three goals) and is sidelined indefinitely after groin surgery. The best way to look at this is that 1) it gives Fabian Zetterlund a shot to play in the top-6 consistently, 2) when Palat returns, it will be like acquiring a top-6 winger ahead of the trade deadline, but one that everyone already knows and is part of the team. Also, Zetterlund has looked really, really good on Nico Hischier’s wing at both even strength and while shorthanded.


The Devils did a great job honoring Andy Greene (who signed a one-day contract to retire as a New Jersey Devil) and Ken Daneyko (40 years with the organization as a player and broadcaster). New Jersey has a rich history filled with great players, and hopefully, one day, they will dust off the Ring of Honor idea and add more members than the singular one they currently have. Want to sell tickets? How many people would show up for John Madden night? Or John MacLean?

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Notable Quotables

Tomas Tatar speaks on adding Erik Haula to their group:

“He’s a guy who has been on playoff teams, and he’s been n a lot of teams so he’s seen the different cultures. To reach the NHL playoffs, the Final, that’s something; he’s been through those difficult games where every little thing matters. In this league, you have to play a certain way with the lead, to catch a team that has the lead. It’s great to have these guys who have been in these situations on our side now. He’s a great two-way player who battles hard. He has the right attitude on the ice and he’s not easy to play against.”

New Jersey Devils
Andy Greene of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Damon Severson on Andy Greene:

“First and foremost, he’s a great guy. You can just see he came from the right people in this world. It was great to see him tonight, and he’s going to be back around here working with us from time to time. As a player, he was my D-partner for quite a bit of time here and he made my life a lot easier out there on the ice. I have nothing but positives to say about Andy.”

(A prophetic?) Brendan Smith after a loss in the home opener and an 0-2 start:

“I’ve been in this league a long time. I know what to expect and I don’t create that self-doubt. For me, when I was a young guy – you were looking for older guys to help you out. That’s an area where now I and guys like Pally (Palat) can help guys out. We’ve been on both sides of it. You kind of lean on those guys to help you. That’s where there is no self-doubt. Let’s all leave the past on the past and move on from here.”

“We’re in the business of performing, and as I said earlier, I know everyone here is working hard, and the areas we need improvement in – it’s so close. Once we get there, not only will this be a happy room because we’ll be playing music and all that. The fans will be happy; it’s all going to work. Baby steps; we’ll get there. We’re going to build something.”

Tomas Tatar Confident He Can Help Devils Win. dark. Next

Shots Shots ShotsShotsShotsShots

Through nine games, New Jersey has 31 goals (ninth in the NHL) and leads the league in shots on goal per game (39.3) with a total of 354. In their recent road game in Detroit, they had 15 shots on goal in the first period alone. How many times was that close to a game total over the last two, three, or four seasons?