New Jersey Devils experience bad luck and injured players

Can the New Jersey Devils afford to have another player injured? In one of the Devils’ most highly anticipated seasons, the team has been underwhelming, sitting in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division. As they enter the month of December, they’re still struggling. 

Being troubled with injuries, struggling with goaltending and the defensive zone, the Devils are at a place different from last season, where they were at the top of their division. Everyone is wondering if they will be able to get back on track. The Devils are very much capable of getting back on track and they have the talent, they just need to show it and step up. With key players on their injury list, the rest of the team struggled to hold wins. 

First, they lost their captain, Nico Hischier, to an upper body injury. Jack Hughes missed two weeks after crashing into the board shoulder first from a player on the St. Louis Blues. The Devils couldn’t catch a break missing two key players on the ice, and it didn’t end there. After a loss against Winnipeg, forward Timo Meier was out the rest of the month. Another forward, Erik Haula, is out with a lower-body injury and has yet to return. Defenseman Dougie Hamilton being out indefinitely has shifted the defensive line. Hughes, Hischier and Meier have all returned to the Devil’s lineup. 

The coaching staff took things into their own hands and called up players from the AHL. Max Willman, Colin Miller and Simon Nemec, two defenders and one forward, came up to lend them a hand and are currently still in the lineup. If you have watched any of the games this month, you may have noticed the defense slacking along with the goalies. 

Both Vitek Vanecek and Akira Schmid have been tested on the ice. Vanecek seems to be the team’s go-to goaltender to start in games. After Vanecek was tested and gave up four goals, he was replaced midway by Schmid in their game against the New York Islanders, and the team ended up walking away with their second win of the week in their pocket. 

General manager Tom Fitzgerald decided to start Schmid in the last two games of the week. As any goalie would, Schmid had a part of their third win of the week, but also the loss last Friday. So, does that mean they hand over the reins to Schmid or continue testing them both out in the net? 

The losses are not all to be the goaltender’s fault. There’s a defensive zone for a reason, but they haven’t been playing up to the standards that they should be at. Defense is hit or miss. Twenty-year-old defenseman Luke Hughes has shown off the Hughes family talent in the defensive zone but also offensively. With fourteen points, L. Hughes has gathered three goals and eleven assists this season. 

In Thursday’s game against the Flyers, Luke scored the game-winning goal in overtime after receiving a flawless pass from his older brother Jack.

With key players being back and bringing up players from Utica, it has given Devils fans a sense of hope that maybe they will bounce back. They are looking for the team to come up with an answer and solution to the goaltending issues. 

Can the Devils bounce back from a difficult month as a team? Can they keep the majority of their key players healthy? Where and what do you believe the Devils most need to improve?


Featured photo courtesy of @NJDevils, X