The second round of the New Jersey Devils return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs looked a lot like the first. The Carolina Hurricanes jumped out to a big lead and eventually won 5-1. Evening up the series before returning home to The Rock for Game 3 is pivotal.
To turn the tide against the Canes, the Devils need certain players to step up and give them an edge. These three players can help the Devils grab Game 2 and spark a Round 2 surge.
1. Nico Hischier
The Devils need their captain to ignite his team. Part of the Devils’ 30-goal scorer club, 24-year-old Nico Hischier scored 31 goals in the regular season. This is an increase over last year’s 21 goals. Adding in his 49 assists, Hischier had 80 points this season.
The captain is also a finalist for the Selke Trophy, an award for the best two-way forward. In addition to the offense he brings, Hischier’s defense is important for the Devils. He can hinder the opposing team’s offense by staying on them and taking away their space. Also, look for Hischier to pump up his team with the words of encouragement and motivation the captain provides.
Hischier had five assists in the Round 1 series against the Rangers. Despite 22 shots on goal in that series, plus one shot on goal in the first game against the Canes, Hischier has yet to score a goal in the playoffs. The good news is that he’s still contributing to the offense, but the Devils would like to see Hischier break the scoring drought that dates back to April 2nd and get one in.
Hischier posted just one goal in the Devils’ last 12 regular season games. Now he’s without a goal in the playoffs. But Hischier has been hustling and grinding, grabbing assists and creating chances. Expect him to continue getting those meaningful assists in Round 2 and keep pushing to get one past the Canes’ goalie. He’s taking shots, but he needs to finish. The Devils can feed off Hischier’s energy, so he needs to bring it.