New Jersey Devils Start Post All-Star Break with a Win
Devils Start Post All-Star Break with a Win
34 games remain in the NHL regular season. All-Star break is over. The Devils’ start the final push of the regular season out of the top three in the Metropolitan Division and in the first Wild Card position. Pressure is on. The Devils Post All-Star break is starting and it is the most important push of the season.
How did the Devils’ respond tonight against the last-place Buffalo Sabres who were on a 3-game win streak? They played hard and beat the Sabres 3-1 in Buffalo.
No All-Star Hangover
After a long break, it can take a minute for a team to play at 100%. The Devils start post All-Star break did not seem to be suffering from any lag though. Brian Boyle (who replaced Taylor Hall) represented the team in the weekend festivities after a health scare with his son Declan. Boyle was welcomed with one of the loudest ovations in Tampa where he had played from ‘14-’17 before joining NJ. He came in second (by a few tenths of a second) to Vancouver’s Brock Boeser in accuracy shooting in Saturday’s Skills competition. Today he spent the morning in Boston with his son who is still being treated before meeting the team in Buffalo. While he only got one SOG he did have a few chances and had a nice physical game with 13:05 on the ice.
The Devils were in a goal drought that was broken by Miles Wood in the 2nd period. Wood who is earning his place every day in the Devils line-up more and more got one past the Sabres Lehner with a backhand to give the Devils the early lead. I am personally a big fan of Miles Wood. His style of play (as I have said in the past) is something the Devils have been missing in previous seasons. He is a tough forward. He sticks up for his team on the ice and is not afraid to be physical. While he is still young he is maturing. Throughout the season you can see him playing smarter hockey.
Injuries and Returns
Tonight, was Mirco Mueller’s return to the ice after a broken collarbone sidelined him for 31 games. He got a respectable 13:55 on the ice. It will be interesting to see how this young player can bolster the defense which tends to be the weakest part of the fairly strong lineup.
Taylor Hall and Keith Kinkaid also returned to the lineup tonight. Keith had a strong performance in goal which was needed as Schneider was still out with his groin injury. Hall had a great performance with his return getting a goal off of an assist by Jesper Bratt and Nico Hischier.
MoJo is still out with concussion symptoms following the hit from Brad Marchand that got him a 5-game suspension.
The Devils next two games are an all Pennsylvania series. The Flyers, who are nipping at the Devils heels, will be at the Rock on Thursday night. The 3rd place Penguins will be in town on Saturday night. Both games will be important tests for the New Jersey Devils as the hope to break their playoff drought.