Admitting you’re in the wrong is never easy. But that’s exactly what New Jersey Devils fans did in the Prudential Center on November 12th. As a 4-2 victory over the Coyotes extended the Devils’ nine-game win streak, chants of “Sorry, Lindy!” echoed around the Rock, a callback to the “Fire Lindy” yells heard only a month ago. Head coach Lindy Ruff had a rough start to the season, losing their first two games and giving Devils fans a distinct sense of deja vu as they prepared for another disappointing season.
However, since October 15th, the Devils have only lost one game, currently hold the longest active win streak in the NHL at nine games, and sit atop the Metropolitan division with 24 points. It’s been a team effort to turn things around, but excellent performances from a young core and solid secondary offensive effort have been key to the Devils’ upswing.
Lindy Ruff’s New Jersey Devils On Nine-Game Win Streak
When Nico Hischier was made captain of the Devils in 2021, he was the youngest captain in the NHL. At just 22 years old, many doubted if the former first-overall pick had what it takes to lead an NHL team. In a career marked by injuries until this point, Hischier has not been able to show his full potential as a scorer and playmaker. He was good, staying in the top five goal scorers through each of his first four seasons, but never playing with the confidence expected of a first-overall pick. This season, the story is completely different.
O Captain, My Captain
Through 14 games played, Hischier is the Devils’ leading goal scorer with eight goals and is second in points to teammate Jesper Bratt. He’s on pace for a 93-point season, blowing his current record of 60 points in the 2021-22 season out of the water. He has a current points/60 percentage of 3.74, up 1.08 from last year. Hischier’s offensive upswing comes coupled with elite defence. As the first-line center, Hischier is often matched up against the best of the best, players like Nathan MacKinnon, Johnny Gaudreau, and Leon Draisaitl. When Hischier was on the ice against those three players, New Jersey held the advantage in both shot attempts and expected goals. Hischier is contributing massively on both ends of the ice and coupled with great performances from perennial scorers Jesper Bratt and Jack Hughes, New Jersey’s young core seems to be finally finding their footing.
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Fourth Line Contributions
However, it’s not just the stars who have contributed. New Jersey’s fourth line of Michael McLeod, Nathan Bastian, and Miles Wood has also been more effective offensively. When compared to all lines for the Devils, the “BMW” line comes in second in xGF at 3.4, only trailing the first line of Fabian Zetterlund, Nico Hischier, and Tomas Tatar. While they are only converting on 54% of those chances, having a fourth line that is generating offensive opportunities is massive for both confidence levels and momentum changes in a game. Between the increased output from Hischier and the top lines and the chances generated by the fourth line, New Jersey has enough to sustain offensive pressure and create chances, helping them along the way to a nine-game streak.
The Devils are not a perfect team. The penalty kill is an area that could improve, and the team is still a majority of young players trying to put together career performances, which always raises concerns about the sustainability of success. However, the Devils haven’t shown any signs of slowing down so far, and the fans can tell that there has been a shift within the team. Whether it’s Lindy getting the apology or the players, one is certainly deserved.
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