Image Courtesy of Bobby O'Hara

The New Jersey Devils Reclaim No.1 in the Metropolitan

On Sunday night, the New Jersey Devils (44-16) faced off with the Carolina Hurricanes (43-14) in a highly anticipated matchup. The two teams are competing for the No.1 spot in the Metropolitan Division. At the moment, the Devils trail the Hurricanes by one game in the division. Therefore, this game is high stakes for both teams with playoffs rapidly approaching. Some believe this game is a tone-setter for what’s to come in April. Prior to this game, the Hurricanes were leading the Devils in their matchups, 2-1. The Devils changed that on Sunday with a 3-0 and gained momentum heading toward the playoffs.

Early in the game, the Devils appeared to be playing with extremely high energy and purpose. Throughout the game, the Prudential Center was filled with Devils' fans helping them feed off that energy. Early in the game, the Devils relentless defense began to set the tone for the remainder of the game. Not to mention, goalie Vitek Vanecek didn’t allow a single goal playing a back-to-back due to Myles Blackwood’s injury.

“I think him [Vanecek] and Schmid has been playing unbelievable for us and really stepping up for us in key moments,” Devils L Jesper Bratt expressed after the game. “Obviously, that gives us a lot of confidence as a group knowing we have a goalie that steps up in key moments.”

That said,  Jack Hughes dominated the first period. The smothering Devils' defense allowed several opportunities for the offense to capitalize. In spite of getting great shots, the Devils couldn’t get a bounce to roll their way. Until Hughes stole the puck away from Hurricanes D Calvin DeHaan and quickly punched in a goal for the Devils.

Later in the period, although Hughes didn’t score he still impacted the play. During a breakaway,  Hughes guided Jesper Bratt to a goal with 11:13 remaining in the period. The Devils took a 2-0 lead

“I think everyone knew this would be a big game tonight,” John Marino said. “Everyone was pretty excited about it, especially after a back-to-back so we laid it all on the line tonight.”

New Jersey Devils Defense Continues to be Relentless

Throughout the game, the Devils made it a point to knock the Hurricanes out of rhythm and clog the lanes forcing the Hurricanes to shoot tough shots. That said, the Hurricanes couldn’t find any offense and managed to allow the Devils to record 13 takeaways throughout the game. Ultimately, the turnovers lead to multiple possessions for the Devils. 

Oftentimes, in the flow of the game, players will have to adapt and adjust to the puck. Naturally in the strike zone, the puck has the privilege to go anywhere and bounce as it pleases. Initially, Hughes attempted a shot on goal, however the puck ricocheted off several players and landed near Bratt’s stick. Resulting, in another goal for the Devils giving them a three-goal lead over the Hurricanes.


In conclusion, this win is a tone-setter for the Devils, and with the playoffs rapidly approaching they can build on this momentum going forward.

"Again, we haven't practiced a lot and we’ve relied on giving the team as much rest as possible,” head coach Lindy Ruff emphasized.  “I think the team’s benefited from us not practicing all week. With the number of games we're playing, we’re trying to stay fresh.”