5 Players Who Brought New Jersey Devils To First Place

Miles Wood #44 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)
Miles Wood #44 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images) /
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New Jersey Devils
New Jersey Devils defenseman John Marino (6): John Jones-USA TODAY Sports /

3. John Marino

If we were picking units that are a major reason for the turnaround, the defense would be at the top of the list. From top to bottom, the unit is, well, a unit. They have been taking opposing offenses out to lunch. Only six teams have allowed fewer goals than the Devils. It all comes down to shot suppression. Only one team has allowed fewer shots than the Devils, and the St. Louis Blues have played nine games to the Devils 12.

That’s why it’s crazy that only one defenseman makes this list. But it’s clear the impact that John Marino has on this team. After the Devils acquired Marino in the offseason, they were clearly highlighting defensive defensemen to fix its issues. And it is working. Marino has been a master with the poke check. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time.

Marino has been playing like one of the best defensemen in the league. There have been a lot of really good defensemen this year. Erik Karlsson has the resurgence of a lifetime. Cale Makar is still the best defenseman on the planet. Victor Hedman, Roman Josi, and Adam Fox will all be repetitive Norris candidates. Marino can go up against them all.

Marino has been shutting down opposing superstars on a nightly basis. Whether Connor McDavid or Matthew Barzal, Marino gets all the hard matchups. And he wins more often than not. He’s the reason the Devils goalies have an easier job, at least when he’s one the ice.