Positive Start & The Taxi Squad
With the start to the 2022 portion of the 2021-22 NHL season. The New Jersey Devils are currently on a two-game win streak. The spark in the past two games played and won has been heavily influenced by the hot starts of the new year with Jack Hughes and Dougie Hamilton driving the offensive firepower. The power play is finally becoming more of a consistent reason due to their will in winning games.
If the Devils are going to make a run with reinforcements on the taxi squad reinstated you have Nolan Foote who is a power forward with a heavy shot that can do damage, and will his size and shot influence Alain Nasreddine (filling in for HC Lindy Ruff) while coaching behind the bench. With the World Juniors canceled, winger Alexander Holtz is officially part of the New Jersey Devils taxi squad. What this allows these youngsters to really do is to not only be on call when or both players get injected into the lineup. The infusion of these young men allows them to be part of the on and off ice culture for as long as they are around.
Jack Hughes Ignites Devils Offense
Having Alexander Holtz around for a second stint with the Devils will only make him not only skate quicker but give him more looks to prove he can be a true finisher on the wings that can add scoring depth with the existing high-end offensive pieces in the lineup. Nolan Foote has had his cup of coffee before in New Jersey and both can be used in the upcoming games at The Washington Capitals and at the Boston Bruins. In the past 5 games, Jack Hughes and Alexander Ovechkin are matched with 4 goals, and Damon Severson 4 goals along with John Carlson’s 6 assists. Jack Hughes does match 7 points to John Carlsons 7 in the past 5 games.
Alexander Holtz (NJD) scores on the PP to make it 4-1 Sweden. Nice feed from William Eklund (SJS). pic.twitter.com/1X6K30PKs9
— Adam Herman (@AdamZHerman) December 26, 2021
If there is a reason the Washington Capitals should be worried about playing the Devils it’s due to the nature of Jack Hughes getting off to a very hot start in 2022 in the past few games. Damon Severson and Dougie Hamilton are beginning to creep up in a hot offensive manner along with Nathan Bastian being a Sasquatch type of presence in front of a guy like Vitek Vanecek or Ilya Samsonov. So there is a different dynamic the Devils have added that size, grit, spirit, and great character forward like Bastian who is a young right-handed Brian Boyle.
If the Devils can keep winning more consistently as they have beaten a wildcard-bound team in the Edmonton Oilers who arguably have the best forwards in Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid in today’s NHL. The biggest question will be how “will they handle Ovechkin and company?” Another one will be “can they keep up and compete with the Boston Bruins with the amount of young talent and veterans on this staff?”
While the next two games are a wait-and-see type approach if the Devils can right the ship and get back above 500 hockey that could possibly get them a wild card spot by season’s end. Hopefully, this time where guys like Alexander Holtz and Nolan Foote can get their ice time in and play meaningful minutes that will help them gain their confidence. We all know Nolan Foote has the ability to be a beast at the NHL level it’s only a matter of time before he gets summoned to play and make him prove he’s worthy of an NHL spot.
With the NHL trade deadline falling on March 21st at 3 p.m. EST the Devils have some time to turn around and re-evaluate a few pieces that might not fit into the near and longer-term. So GM, Tom Fitzgerald will be looking to utilize his leverage to not only keep improving the team but likely bolster the backup goalie role with Jonathan Bernier on Injury Reserve with hip issues.
It is only a matter of time when the New Jersey Devils pick up a goaltender who can be the Devils 1B goaltender while Nico Daws and Akira Schmid look to eventually become the successors with Mackenzie Blackwood at the beginning of his prime.
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