There has been a shift for the New Jersey Devils this season. The quarter mark of the 2022-23 campaign has passed and fans have seen vast improvements from head coach Lindy Ruff’s club. Between the goaltending and improved blue line the team’s early run has been impressive. They even set an NHL record for the most wins in the month of November with 13 (13-1-0).
Related: 10 Observations From Devils’ First 10 Games
Another difference is in how the fanbase has really rallied around the club this season. After some tough years, fans have really embraced the team and are enjoying the development of the club’s young stars like Jesper Bratt, Nico Hischier, and, of course, Jack Hughes. The most noticeable difference is the sellout crowd that has made its way to Newark the past few months.
Attendance and Enthusiasm Has Been up This Season
According to Statista, average attendance at Prudential Center last season was 12,744. Considering the team’s home record during the 2021-22 campaign was 16-20-5, it was not a surprise that New Jersey’s attendance was one of the lowest in the league.
This season the team’s home record is 10-4-1 and fans have not only flocked to Newark to see the team, but have made their presence known. Below is a breakdown of attendance this season, all statistics were provided by the Devils’ public relations department and @PuckReportNHL on Twitter.
- 10/15/22: Devils vs. Detroit Red Wings 16,514 (100 percent)
- 10/18/22: Devils vs. Anaheim Ducks 10,130 (61.3 percent)
- 10/22/22: Devils vs. San Jose Sharks 11,037 66.8 percent)
- 10/24/22: Devils vs. Washington Capitals 11,405 (69.0 percent)
- 10/28/22: Devils vs. Colorado Avalanche 12,502 (75.7 percent)
- 10/30/22: Devils vs. Columbus Blue Jackets 11,547 (69.9 percent)
- 11/08/22: Devils vs. Calgary Flames 13,096 (79.3 percent)
- 11/10/22: Devils vs Ottawa Senators 13,806 (83.6 percent)
- 11/12/22: Devils vs. Arizona Coyotes 16,514 (100 percent)
- 11/21/22: Devils vs. Edmonton Oilers 16,514 (100 percent)
- 11/23/22: Devils vs. Toronto Maple Leafs 16,514 (100 percent)
- 11/26/22: Devils vs. Washington Capitals 16,514 (100 percent)
- 12/01/22: Devils vs. Nashville Predators 14,071 (85.2 percent)
- 12/06/22: Devils vs. Chicago Blackhawks 13,071 (79.2 percent)
- 12/09/22: Devils vs. New York Islanders 16,514 (100 percent)
Devils Players Have Recognized the Rejuvenated Rock
When Miles Wood addressed the media after the team’s overtime victory over the Senators he talked about the energy inside Prudential Center.
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“I haven’t seen that atmosphere since the playoff year [2017-18 season],” said Wood. “The Rock was absolutely insane tonight and it is fun to play in that atmosphere, for sure. We thrive off of that [energy]. … When the fans are that loud we can definitely hear it and it was absolutely insane.”
Not only is Prudential Center the loudest I’ve heard it in years, there is a confidence among fans that even if the team is down on the scoresheet, they are never out of the game. The perfect example was on Dec. 9 when the Devils hosted the Islanders.
Head coach Ruff made the bold decision to pull goaltender Akira Schmid with close to eight minutes left in the final frame in an effort to tie the game. Fans were highly engaged and supportive even though the game resulted in an eventual 6-4 loss. Afterwards, I spoke with Hischier who said it was a fun atmosphere and noted the fans were with them until the very end.
Fans Are Flocking to Nearby Arenas to Support the Devils
Chants of “Let’s Go Devils” echoed throughout the rink. Like-minded fans in matching team colors high-fived to celebrate goals scored by Hughes and Michael McLeod. Splashes of red were seen in every section of the arena and the sounds of the Ric Flair’s “Woo” could be heard throughout the concourse as fans gathered to the escalators after the game as they celebrated a victory.
While this is a normal scene at Prudential Center on any given Devils gameday, it was a first in Madison Square Garden (MSG) as was the scene on Nov. 28 when the Devils traveled across the Hudson River to face off against the New York Rangers. It was an electric atmosphere that surprised Devils fans as much as the home crowd.
“As a longtime Devils fan, the atmosphere was something special,” said Devils fan Nicole Basedow. “So many Devils fans showed up and cheered them on. It was so exciting to see all the Devil fans invade MSG. Every time a ‘Lets Go Devils’ chant started it grew louder and louder, drowning out any Rangers chants. I’ll never forget that experience.”
Fans have also traveled to Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia and have taken to social media to talk about how enjoyable it’s been to watch Devils hockey away from Newark this season.
“The atmosphere was great [at Wells Fargo Center]. The fanbase is dedicated this season, traveling to see the team,” said Devils fan Corey Schnee. “A lot of Devils fans were in attendance, making it a fun experience.”
After a rough 2021-22 campaign, where nothing went right for the club, fans are basking in the glory of their team’s winning record. The hockey season is a long one, but for now most are living in the moment and enjoying what some fans call an unreal experience.
“The first one-third of the season has been a surreal experience. As a lifelong Devils fan, this is easily the happiest I have been since the Cup Final run back in 2012. Being able to experience this has been amazing,” said Farrell Hudson.
The Devils will play in front of the home crowd tonight as they host the Dallas Stars at 7:00 P.M. Fans can tune into MSG Networks at 6:30 P.M. for the pregame show hosted by Matt Loughlin and Bryce Salvador.