NJ Devils: The Underdogs

Devils’ Jack Hughes fistbumping his bench before a game.


Devils’ Jack Hughes fistbumping his bench before a game.

Tristan Walder

Exceeding Expectations

With only 63 season points and unfulfilled potential, the Devil’s 21-22 season was not ideal. With young talent like Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, and Jesper Bratt not being healthy throughout the year, the New Jersey Devils front office was not quite sure what the next season would bring to the table. The Devils were predicted to make the playoffs this past season, but just by a hair. However, come the start of the season the team excelled in away games and played solid home games. Not one analyst predicted they would finish just one point behind first place in the Metropolitan division and third overall in the league – that’s the magic of this 22-23 season.


The Stats

Jersey won 52 of 82 games this season, along with 8 overtime losses that amount to one point each, on top of 2 points for each win. Their point total this season was 112, just behind the Carolina Hurricanes’ division leading 113 points. This year, Jack Hughes, the Devil’s young prodigy, erupted for a career best 99 points from 43 goals and 56 assists (nhl.com). The youthful team is known for its quickness, shifty movement, and gametime grit. Unlike most veteran teams with loads of chemistry and impeccable defense, the Devils displayed strong defensive stickwork, becoming  one of the best defensive teams in the league. No matter the game, the Devils fought to the very end with the third most overtime walk off wins out of any team this season (statmuse.com).


Playoff Performance

Going into the playoffs the Devils were set to face the team right over the pond: the New York Rangers. The Rangers had playoff experience, while the Devils had little to none. The home game advantage for both teams was small because most fans live one hour from each stadium regardless. However, the close proximity didn’t mean any friends were made in this series. 

The Rangers took a quick 2-0 lead in the series with both wins being 5-1 victories over the Devils. When the Devils went to Madison Square Garden for game three, they did not give up, winning a 2-1 overtime battle in the trenches. After this, the Devils pummeled the Rangers in back to back games to take a commanding 3-2 lead in the series. At this point, Ramapo Junior and Devils fan Max Baczyinski asked, “How could you root for the losing team?” The Rangers held off with home-ice advantage in game six but were no match for the Devils in the winner-take-all game seven.

In the East Semifinals, however, the Devils were made quick work by the Hurricanes, losing in five games  – a brutal end to their storybook season. 


End Results

This year proved that the Devils are the next up and coming team in the league. With a taste of experience, the team should excel next season as they face strong opponents with even more grit. Young goalie, Akira Schmid of the Devils emerged as the best on the team this postseason, so it is expected he will take the spot of starting goalie next season. Change in the goalie as well as a more experienced lineup should result in great dividends for this sprouting team.