New Jersey Devils: 3 Changes That Need To Happen Now

New Jersey Devils Goalie Akira Schmid (40): Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils Goalie Akira Schmid (40): Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports /
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New Jersey Devils, Jack Hughes
New Jersey Devils center Jack Hughes (86): Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

Replacing Production of Hughes and Hischier

By now, we’ve talked plenty about the losses of Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier to upper body injuries. We all know Hughes is the biggest offensive threat on the Devils. Hischier is a top-tier two-way forward. These are devastating losses for the team, especially with them both out at the same time. But Hischier and Hughes are far from the only threats on the team. The Devils are using a ‘next man up’ mentality in order to survive the blows they’ve been dealt.

Tyler Toffoli has been a rockstar so far in his first season with the Devils. Jesper Bratt is sixth in the NHL in points. Timo Meier had a slow start but has picked things up. Forward depth can also step up, and they’ll need to. Dawson Mercer finally broke through and scored his first goal of the season this week.

The Devils need all hands on deck to keep generating offense. This means finding offense from unexpected sources, too. John Marino is a defensive defenseman, but he’s already racked up eight assists this season.

Here’s the reality: the Devils can plug the Hughes/Hischier-sized hole and focus on getting by until they come back, but that’s short-term. The long-term goal has to be to improve defensively and not solely rely on potent offense to cover defensive mistakes. They cannot contend for the Stanley Cup if they do not clean up the defense and have consistent goaltending.

Overall, the Devils need more complete game efforts. The trend of having a poor start in the first period last season trickled into this season, but it’s now gone beyond that. Too many times, we’ve seen them fall into a gaping hole in the first period, only to play brilliantly in the second period, and then look sloppy again in the third…or some variation of this sloppy, inconsistent play.

The team has looked like two or three different teams in the span of one game far too many times already this season. There have been a couple of games that the Devils have managed to pull off wins despite sloppy play, but the games that have been the most exciting are the ones where the Devils have played the game from start to finish.

Next. Down Hischier and Hughes, Dawson Mercer Answers the Call. dark

With the talent on their roster, the Devils can compete with teams of the highest caliber. They do not need to panic and fear that they’re not as good as expected. They can be the contenders we hope they’ll be, but they’re not all the way there yet.