5 New Jersey Devils Players Fighting For Playoff Minutes

New Jersey Devils right wing Nathan Bastian (14) and left wing Miles Wood (44) and defenseman Ryan Graves (33) and center Michael McLeod (20) celebrates a goal scored by Wood against the Dallas Stars during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils right wing Nathan Bastian (14) and left wing Miles Wood (44) and defenseman Ryan Graves (33) and center Michael McLeod (20) celebrates a goal scored by Wood against the Dallas Stars during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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New Jersey Devils
Nathan Bastian #14 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Zac BonDurant/Getty Images) /

Nathan Bastian

Lazar took the place of Nathan Bastian, who all of a sudden has been fighting for his life in the lineup. It’s actually strange. Bastian has some of the best underlying numbers on the time. He’s been on the ice for 14 goals and only 9 goals against at 5v5. Only Nico Hischier and Tomas Tatar have a better ratio.

Bastian hasn’t been the same player since he returned from his injury, but that was almost two months ago. Since he returned in January, Bastian is fourth in CF% (not including Lazar’s one game). So, it’s not like he’s been bad. He just wasn’t the really good player he was earlier in the season.

His high-danger chance percentage is second to only Damon Severson since January. Literally, everything is pointing to Bastian being one of the most important bottom-six players on the roster.

Yet, it seems like Lindy Ruff still makes him fight for every second he’s on the ice. Bastian makes an impact with his hits, his offensive awareness, and his ability to suppress shots through blocks and zone exits. Yet, for some reason, he finds himself out of the lineup. Let’s see if he proves himself by the time the playoffs come.