Jack Hughes thought he was doing pretty well as a professional hockey player. Hughes, his No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, skated for the Devils, emerged as a superstar in the NHL, and had the best of his life in his next four seasons.
Then go into the postseason.
“I thought the NHL regular season was the best,” he said beamingly. “It’s not even close to the playoffs.”
Hughes and his Devils teammates were on the rise Monday night in Newark, N.J., after a 4-0 win over the Rangers in Game 7 of the first-round playoff series.they are their physically large And a more experienced neighbor sent a message that appeared to be delivered a year or two ahead of schedule.
The Devils, who haven’t won a playoff series since 2012, won just 27 last season as they continue to rebuild under General Manager Tom Fitzgerald since 2020. The first overall pick of 2017, it made a promising deal and brought in a major free agent.
The team they have built is very fast and skilled, and there are signs of improvement this year. Now, they hope to continue their steady rise over the next few seasons.
Given the age of most of these speedy young players, their blossoming talent and cohesion, and the evidence we see on the ice in the series, league and Rangers fans will have to contend with these demons well into 2023 and beyond. It is reasonable to assume that .
“This is the time we want to play for the next 10 years,” Hughes said, noting that Devils fans now own regional bragging rights at least until next spring.
Monday’s Game 7 put an end to a wild first round of the NHL playoffs. The road team achieved a record 31 wins in 50 games14 games went to overtime, 11 of which were won by the road team. His best regular season team ever, the Boston Bruins, lost to the Florida Panthers, becoming his second and final wild card in the East. The defending champion Colorado Avalanche lost to Seattle He Kraken, his second-year expansion team playing in the first postseason.
The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning in Game 6 in Tampa, Florida to win the first round of a playoff series for the first time since 2004, becoming one of six teams to win the series on the road.
Of the remaining eight teams, the Carolina Hurricanes are the most recent Stanley Cup champions, dating back to 2006. They defeated the Islanders on Long Island in overtime in Game 6 and will host the Devils in Game 1 on Wednesday.
The Devils are likely to stick with goaltender Akira Schmidt, the rookie sensation who helped reverse the series against the Rangers. sat down on Vitek Vanek in the third game and gave the net to Schmidt. He won four of his next five games for the Devils.
Schmidt recorded two shutouts and 1.38 goals against the average in the series, becoming only the fifth rookie to score a shutout in Game 7 and the first since Carey Price of Montreal in 2008.
“The biggest thing, obviously, was Schmidt coming in and playing unrealistically,” Hughes said of the team’s turnaround. “He was a brick wall for us.”
Schmidt could be another part of the Devils’ promising future. He turned 23 on May 12 and started only his 14 regular season games, his other four coming as a substitute. Vanecek was a regular good throughout his season, but was forced to make a transfer out of desperation.
Originally from Bern, Switzerland, Schmidt was 6ft 5, 205lbs tall and his teammates called him the Schmidt of Torpedoes. He has appeared in his 23 games this season with his hockey Utica his league minor for the Comets, and has scored more goals per game (2.62) than a regular at New Jersey in his season’s games (2.13). ) became higher. Maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise. The statistic also reflects team play in general, with Schmidt explaining that playing in the NHL can be less chaotic for goalkeepers. The structure in front of goal is usually better, with defenders good at removing rebounds and preventing chip-ins.
“Sometimes it makes the play easier to read,” says Schmid.
While the Devils stand out for their speed, they also showed drive and toughness, especially in Game 7. Palato, who won his two Stanley Cups with his Lightning, was signed in July to add playoff experience and has shown the team the kind of work it takes to win the playoffs. rice field.
“There is no end to this team,” said Ruff. “They give me everything they have.”
Eric Howrah is another veteran acquired last offseason through a trade with Boston to bolster the team’s playoff savvy. He appeared in his 41 games with the Hurricanes in his 2019-20 and faced them in last year’s playoffs as a member of the Bruins, who lost seven games.
On Monday, Howrah scored his team’s third goal. Another example of how the Devils blend hard work and finesse, determination and skill. Parratt won his battle with the puck on the board and kicked the puck up into Hughes.
The Devils will need a lot more against the tough Hurricanes. The Hurricanes have his ice advantage at home in the series by scoring one point in the Metropolitan Division against the Devils. But back in Newark for Games 3 and 4, Howrah predicted the atmosphere would be even better than in the first round.
“If you get the Rangers fans out of here, it’s going to get louder,” he said.