The New Jersey Devils have been on a roll since their Western Conference road trip that was allegedly going to be the death of their 2017-18 season. Tonight could be a big night for this franchise going forward and we examine 5 stories revolving around it a mere 8 hours before game time:
1.) “Here’s The Clincher”
With a win over the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight, the Devils could officially punch their ticket to the postseason for the first time since 2011-2012. The magic number is two still entering action tonight; any combination of two points won by the Devils or lost by the Florida Panthers will lead to New Jersey’s return to the chase for the Stanley Cup.
With two games left against the Boston Bruins, Florida may struggle to win out their schedule anyway, but the path becomes even simpler if the Devils take destiny into their own hands and win tonight’s game. We wanted meaningful hockey in March/April this season; it may not get any more meaningful than tonight.
2.) Hall In
I don’t know if there are words to describe how good Taylor Hall’s season has been for Jersey’s Team. With a pair of games remaining, he finds himself 3 points away from tying (and 4 points away from exceeding) Patrik Elias’ record for most points in a single season as a Devil.
While Hallsy may or may not accomplish that feat in the games remaining, he still has already put together the 4th best season in Devils history, and he missed 5 games due to injury! I’m personally torn on whether or not I would want to see him exceed Elias’ total, but he’s earning every penny he’s making and every MVP chant he’s hearing.
There’s not enough that can be said about Hall in 17-18 but it can maybe be summed up best with one thought; without him, the Devils are probably a lottery team again.
3.) Travis & the Texans
While most nights they’ve wound up seemingly penciled in as the third line on most lineup cards, the trio of Travis Zajac, Blake Coleman and Stefan Noesen have elevated their games enough that I see them as the team’s second line right now. The slated in second line of Pavel Zacha and a rotating cast of wingers has not done much in terms of production right now.
With their ability to score some timely goals and also coming in to play against the toughest lines of opposing teams, I don’t think that the T&T line’s importance can be stressed enough. Coleman and Noesen in particular have all of the makings of being key components for a lengthy playoff run. Hopefully, we will see this being put to the test soon.
4.) Not Missing Our MoJo
Marcus Johansson is still awaiting a chance to jump back into the lineup, but it does not look like tonight will be that night. With the team coming off a 5-2 win against Our Hated Rivals, I don’t think John Hynes will tinker with the lineups much. If the Devils clinch tonight, perhaps Johansson gets back in on Saturday to give him a game before the postseason. If not, his returned might be delayed even further.
5.) Sitting Severson
While he has made some boneheaded decisions at times, I don’t think sitting Damon Severson gives the Devils the best chance to win their final two games this season. At the same time, Mirco Mueller has played fairly well since being given another chance to play. So who should come out? Is Ben Lovejoy the obvious choice?
Honestly, I think sitting John Moore makes more sense than anything else; he has been atrocious for the past few weeks, and doesn’t know his stick from his elbow in his own end. He’s also not producing offensively, so what point is there in putting him on the ice every night? Bench Moore, put Severson with Mueller, and hopefully we bleed a few less goals.
Now I’d like to hear your thoughts on these subjects; do the Devils beat the Leafs tonight? Does Boston beat Florida? How impressed are you with Hall and/or the T&T line? Do you think Mojo and/or Severson should be playing tonight and if so over who? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!