The Time: 8:00 PM EST
The Broadcast: TV - MSG+
Enough is Enough
The New Jersey Devils are in an absolute spiral, now having lost four straight and eight of their last ten games. Head coach Lindy Ruff has shown no willingness to make changes behind the bench, and Tom Fitzgerald has shown no willingness to replace useless players like Mason Geertsen with more skilled, younger players that have been the product of the rebuild.
Fortunately, they are only six points out as of now. Against the Detroit Red Wings, another young team - the Devils need to start their rebound now. However, against Calder favorite Lucas Raymond, potential runner up Moritz Seider, and their captain Dylan Larkin - the Devils have their work cut out for them. The Devils might have hoped that they could keep two offensive lines without Nico Hischier, but that has not panned out.
This is Dawson Mercer's gamescore chart.— CJ Turtoro (@CJTDevil) December 18, 2021
Take a guess when they took Jesper Bratt off his wing. pic.twitter.com/y3KL2GB4ZA
Lindy Ruff has clear pathways to competitiveness staring him in the face. He needs to reunite Andreas Johnsson, Dawson Mercer, and Jesper Bratt - and then move either Yegor Sharangovich or Tomas Tatar up to the first line. With how much offense Jack Hughes has been creating over the past few games, this seems like an easy way to spread the playmaking.
5v5 shot contributions for NJD forwards vs VGK. Jack Hughes broke my charts for the first time(?) this season pic.twitter.com/xH8ryUEl0f— Todd Cordell (@ToddCordell) December 17, 2021
Another odd point is how little offensive zone time the McLeod line has created with Jimmy Vesey. They managed to hold the Pacioretty line to zero goals last game, but I think Vesey is a bit incompatible with McLeod and Bastian and they would be better of switching him and Studenic.
Hopes for Tonight
The Devils have to pepper Alex Nedeljkovic with shots tonight. This means that Jack Hughes will have to play upwards of 20 minutes, and Mercer will have to step up his game tonight. The Devils defense has not been great lately, and Mackenzie Blackwood has not helped matters all too much, either. With Nico Hischier and Ryan Graves out, the Devils need to lean into their offense since they’ve shown an inability to prevent breakdowns. The team the Devils are nearest in the standings are the Red Wings - and they need to take points tonight.
What do you think of tonight’s game? Will you be watching? How long do they have to keep your interest high in the team? How long does Lindy Ruff have left? Is Tom Fitzgerald starting to get too lax? Leave your thoughts below.