New Jersey Devils, NHL Stadium Series
Photo Credit: Mark Fischgrund

Devils Finding Their Groove in Second Half of NHL Season

Have the New Jersey Devils turned things around? Good goaltending, defense, and offensive firepower have propelled the Devils to a 4-3-1 record since the All-Star break.

Goaltender Nico Daws has been the most significant factor in the Devils' recent success. Daws played in five games since the All-Star break ended, where he collected three more wins to his season.

The first game he played in was the beginning of a dreaded back-to-back against the Seattle Kraken. He collected a win, allowed one goal on 28 shots and had a save percentage of .964. The next day, he started against the Nashville Predators, where he pulled off another victory, allowing two goals on 32 shots and having a save percentage of .938.

His next game was his first loss during this stretch, but it was one of those games that you look at and say, "It was a respectable loss." The Devils were playing the Los Angeles Kings, and they lost the game 2-1. Even though it was a loss, Daws still played an impressive game, allowing two goals on 29 shots and having a save percentage of .931.

The pressure was on Daws as he was handed the start for the NHL Stadium Series game against the Philadelphia Flyers. With the Devils on national television and playing in front of 70,000 at MetLife Stadium, all eyes were on him as the Devils' goaltending has been the central issue of the season. Daws showed up and led the Devils to a 6-3 win in one of the most important games of the season. Not only did he help the Devils to victory, but he also tied the NHL record for the most saves in an NHL outdoor game with 45 saves.

Daws started his fifth game in a row against the Washington Capitals where the wheels fell off the wagon. After a strong showing through four games, Daws had a .769 save percentage against this divisional matchup.

The defenders have stepped up after struggling at the beginning of the season. Watching games now compared to the start of the season, the defenders' mindset has changed. They now have the attitude of simple plays to get the puck out of the defensive zone. Not only have they been playing a simple and smarter game, but they have each been blocking shots more often and having a more physical presence on the ice.

Over this seven-game span, the Devils have been finding the net at a good rate. In seven games, the Devils have scored 22 goals from different players up and down the lineup. Here's a breakdown of who has scored since the All-Star break.

Chris Tierney - One goal

Dawson Mercer - Two goals

John Marino - One goal

Jesper Bratt - One goal

Erik Haula - Two goals

Tyler Toffoli - Three goals

Ondrej Palat - Two goals

Nico Hischier - Five goals

Jack Hughes - Two goals

Timo Meier - One goal

Brendan Smith - One goal

Nate Bastian - Two goals

Alex Holtz - One goal

Every point is now crucial for the Devils as they are trying to make a playoff push, but there are still questions to be answered before the trade deadline. Will Daws eventually come down from this hot streak? Should the Devils be making moves for a goaltender? Do you continue playing Daws as the starting goaltender with the risk of wearing him out before playoffs?

The Devils have less than three weeks until the trade deadline on March 8 to get these questions answered. Until then, they must continue getting as many points as possible.

The Devils play the New York Rangers on Thursday as the Hudson River Rivalry visits the Prudential Center. 

Gabrielle Nordstrom

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