New Jersey Devils Key Takeaways from the Stadium Series

The New Jersey Devils got a huge win against the Philadelphia Flyers at MetLife Stadium. What did we learn?

2024 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series - Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils
2024 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series - Philadelphia Flyers v New Jersey Devils / Sarah Stier/GettyImages
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The New Jersey Devils matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers at MetLife Stadium on Saturday night resulted in a victory and a much-needed boost in the Metropolitan Division and Wild Card standings. With Nico Hischier’s initial goal 32 seconds into the game, the Devils held on to the lead for the entirety of the night, winning the game 6-3. Here are some key takeaways from the Stadium Series game:

1. Nico Hischier is locked in

In addition to Hischier’s goal to start the game, he assisted Brendan Smith's goal in the second period and then scored again at the beginning of the third. He almost netted the first hat trick of his career but missed the empty net goal. Hischier’s recent play shows that he’s focused on finishing the season strong and setting the tone for his teammates. Hischier looks to lead with his actions, both on and off the ice, and his on-ice play and off-ice commitment to believing in the team can motivate the Devils to strive for a more consistent second half of the season.

2. Scoring depth showed up

The Stadium Series game featured goals from two names not often listed on the score sheet: Brendan Smith and Nathan Bastian. Smith, returning recently from injury, scored his second of the year in the second period to put the Devils up 3-1. Bastian then scored a little more than a minute later and banked the empty net that Hischier couldn’t make happen.

Bastian now has five goals on the season and created an iconic New Jersey moment for fans by paying homage to Giants quarterback and New Jersey native Tommy DeVito in his goal celebration. If the DeVito goal celly doesn’t get you fired up, then depth scoring should. If guys like Smith and Bastian are creating offense, it helps to take pressure off the more prolific goal scorers like Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, and Tyler Toffoli. The Devils have been plagued by injuries and stretches of games where goal-scoring has been hard to come by. If the team can keep putting up points from their third and fourth liners and defensemen, they place themselves in a solid position to win more games.

3. Lindy Ruff’s defensive changes are making a difference

During the All-Star break, Devils head coach Lindy Ruff noted that he made some changes to the team’s defensive system. Now, focusing on a more simplistic approach that assists the young defensive talent the Devils are working with in Luke Hughes and Šimon Nemec and allows players like John Marino and Kevin Bahl to focus more on protecting the net than creating offense. This back-to-basics approach has also assisted the Devil's struggling goaltending by allowing Nico Daws and Vitek Vanecek to stay in the net and have a better sight line for potential shots. So far, since the break, the team's defensive performance seems to be trending positively. Time will tell if these changes cause real results.