New Jersey Devils Need To Improve Their Tactics With Upcoming Games

New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier (13) is tied up by Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) during the third period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils center Nico Hischier (13) is tied up by Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) during the third period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New Jersey Devils had a slightly rough stretch, losing in overtime to the Nashville Predators and looking sluggish (despite winning) against the Philadelphia Flyers. They need to look at some new tactics to get back to their dominant ways.

Let Holtz Play More

As the young Swedish sniper is beginning to gain confidence in his game at the NHL, Alex Holtz knows he is too good for the Utica Comets. Yes, his skating needs a bit more work, however, he has already scored an even-strength goal and a power play goal in limited time this season. The problem plaguing him is Lindy Ruff giving him less playing time with Jesper Boqvist.

Holtz will only learn more as he begins to learn more at the NHL level by playing more minutes. The young Swede is confident in his ability to score, but with a coach like Andrew Brunette on the offensive side of the bench, he can continue to grow.

Changing The Approach A Bit

Lindy Ruff needs to allow his young sniper to do his thing and get in synchronization with his center and fellow Swede Boqvist. In turn, he must learn how to get open and yield offensive production. Coach Brunette could be the head coach in the wings and must be allowed to take over the offensive aspects. This includes working with more struggling players, whether they be younger or have veteran status.

The recent win versus Philly was not the best, and Lindy Ruff should’ve rolled 3 to 4 lines. That would have kept the lines fresher. It’s not the only time Ruff has done line shortening; it just didn’t work as effectively. Every player needs to go out there, even in the dying minutes, to help protect the Devils’ lead and prevent any miscues from happening.

Add More Physical Players That Score

This includes allowing Kevin Bahl to play more frequently. They need to let him just gain more experience. You have a behemoth of a defenseman who was able to pitch in on the power play and brings young blood to that back end. Bahl does keep opponents to the outside and would have been a bigger difference, no pun intended, in keeping the Flyers from getting too cozy around Akira Schmid’s net.

As the Devils are in a very favorable position to maintain a playoff spot, the Devils can start looking at other physical players who can light the lamp. A team like the Anaheim Ducks could offer Frank Vatrano. With the way Vatrano played when he with the Rangers, he thrived in that role with Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin. He was clutch in shot blocking, hits, and timely goals.

The New Jersey Devils can opt for a low-risk, high-reward scenario, especially with a guy like Nathan Bastian absent from the lineup. Vatrano brings that speed, grit, and perseverance that the Devils can use in the Top 9. Like Ondrej Palat, Vatrano has playoff experience and knows how to go through tough battles. Plus, he has ties to Andrew Brunette from their time in Florida.

Letting It Play Out

Meanwhile, with the New Jersey Devils looking to see how they can possibly extend Jesper Bratt in January at the earliest, it’ll be one less thing for GM Tom Fitzgerald to have on his plate. A potential Damon Severson trade is likely in the works, and the Devils looking to call up Simon Nemec is very likely in the deck of cards. It will be a call-up before the March 3rd NHL trade deadline where Simon will be ready to take in that spot and get in his first of many games in a Devils jersey.

With the way the Devils are constructed from the parent club to the pipeline, many pieces can be called upon at a moment’s notice. Tom Fitzgerald doesn’t need to acquire a big-name player, with a veteran like Ondrej Palat getting closer to returning to the lineup. It will allow Ruff and his staff to rest various players, keeping them healthy through the postseason. It allows others to recover from mid to late-season bumps, bruises, etc.

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This is a far different team from those we’ve gotten used to. It’s a resilient group that is keeping the Devils fan base very excited and filled with joy displaying Jerseytude (a New Jersey attitude) that is filled with passionate fans with joy, excitement, and being boisterously loud) at home and away games.