New Jersey Devils: Timo Meier Finally Looks Like Himself Again

Timo Meier came back from a mysterious injury and didn't look like the same player. Finally, the New Jersey Devils seem to have a star they can rely on.

New Jersey Devils right wing Timo Meier (28)
New Jersey Devils right wing Timo Meier (28) / Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The New Jersey Devils won a huge game on Saturday night, beating the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 prior to the Christmas break. It was a good team effort, as the Devils overcame early mistakes and a 2-1 deficit to score two goals in the third period and keep their opponents off the board. There were a few players who recorded decent games, but Timo Meier was the most exciting of the bunch.

Meier has been pretty bad since returning from injury. He returned for the game against the San Jose Sharks to start the month. His first goal came just on Thursday. It wasn't just the scoring. Meier had no offensive acumen at all. The analytics showed he was the worst player on the ice almost every game. He wasn't driving to the puck. He had no interest in using his body. It became a real problem.

Lindy Ruff admitted that Meier was still hurt and was playing slower than usual. That's a real issue because one of the major reasons the Devils traded for Meier is he could play with snarl while also keeping up with a Nico Hischier or Jack Hughes line. If he's missing that speed, he becomes just another defensive-focus forward. Even if he has his shot is still great, he's never going to get into position to utilize it.

Over the past two games, the Devils have seen a different version of Meier. He seems confident. He's going into corners and coming out with the puck. Now, this has only lasted two games, but it's an incredible development.

On Saturday, we've seen the best version of Meier possible. He was in the right place in the first period to tie the game at one. Then in the third period, Meier threw an innocent puck at the net with traffic in front, and it got past Michael Hutchinson. It was originally given to Michael McLeod, who was sitting up front, but it was eventually changed to Meier.

Even the analytics show that Meier had a banner night. According to Natural Stat Trick, Meier had six individual chances against the Red Wings, which were the most on the team. His center McLeod was second on the team with five. Two of those six chances were of the high-danger variety.

Meier is a necessary cog if the Devils want to get back in this playoff race in the Metropolitan Division. The whole point of giving Meier close to $9 million per season was to keep him here as part of this four-headed monster with Hischier, Hughes, and Jesper Bratt. He hasn't lived up to the billing this season due to the injury, but there's still time. If he keeps up this type of play for the rest of the season, a 30-goal season is still in play. If he builds on that, this is the player you want in the playoffs.