Devils’ Highs & Lows From the Start of the 2022-23 Season

The New Jersey Devils are 36 games into the 2022-23 season and hold a record of 23-11-2 securing second place in the Metropolitan Division.

New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to reflect and look back at the Devils’ highs and lows over the past few months, and there has been no shortage of excitement on the ice and laughs off of it. Inspired by a recent article written by Mollie Walker of the New York Post, let’s look back on the past 79 days.

Best Goal

Jack Hughes’ Goal Off Charlie Lindgren’s Helmet

Back on Nov. 26, Jack Hughes recorded his first career NHL hat trick versus the Washington Capitals at Prudential Center. His second goal was a jaw-dropper as he shot the puck from a difficult angle that went in off opposing goaltender Charlie Lindgren‘s helmet and the post. After the game, the 21-year-old was asked what he was aiming for and he responded with a smile saying, “just the net, baby. The net.”

Best Save

Akira Schmid in Overtime Versus the Ottawa Senators

On Nov. 10, goaltender Akira Schmid made his 2022-23 season debut for New Jersey. He replaced Vitek Vanecek who suffered an injury late in the game and only played a mere 13:50. It quickly became a memorable 13 minutes as the 22-year-old made seven saves on seven shots. He also elevated his play during overtime and made remarkable stops on Brady Tkachuk and Tim Stützle. After the game he summed up the night by telling media members, “obviously, you don’t expect your first win to be like this, but I’ll take it, for sure.”

Best Win

Nov. 3rd at Edmonton Oilers

With their winning streak on the line, the Devils traveled to Rogers Place to face off against the Edmonton Oilers. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl led the way, and entering the final frame New Jersey was down by two goals. With a little over three minutes left Ryan Graves scored to tie the game at 3-3. It only took seven seconds for Jesper Bratt to score the game-winner that led to his team’s fifth straight regulation win.

Worst Loss

Nov. 23 versus Toronto Maple Leafs

The winning streak was going to end at some point, but the fashion in how it ended left a bitter taste. The Devils hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 23 with a franchise-record winning streak on the line. New Jersey scored three disallowed goals and lost by a final score of 2-1. The dramatics of the night included a sold-out crowd of Devils fans throwing beer and other objects onto the ice, causing the Maple Leafs to flee. Overall, it was a tough way to see the club’s impressive run come to an end.

Biggest Surprise

13-Game Winning Streak in November

It is safe to say that no one had a historic 13-game winning streak on their bingo card at the beginning of the Devils 2022-23 campaign. Through the month of November, New Jersey had a record of 13-1-0, which set an NHL record for the most wins in the month. Their fantastic play from Oct. 25 to Nov. 21 also tied a franchise record for most consecutive wins.

Turning Point

Losing Nate Bastian to Injury

If one is not paying close attention, one would only see Nate Bastian as a fourth-line grinder. Devils fans know he has become more than that, as he provides a net-front presence on the power play and is a key member of the team’s penalty kill.

Related: Devils’ Bastian Will Be Bigger Loss Than Blackwood and Palat

The Devils’ record with Bastian out of the lineup is 5-6-2, and his absence has left a void that has exposed the team’s depth forwards. The coaching staff has rotated a handful of players into his position including Alexander Holtz, Andreas Johnsson, and Fabian Zetterlund. Unfortunately, none of them have provided the spark that the “BMW Line” is known for when Bastian plays alongside Miles Wood and Michael McLeod.

Most Disappointing

Losing Ryan Graves and John Marino to Injuries

Not a lot went right for the Devils in December, but the worst news came during the team’s road trip before Christmas when they lost defensemen John Marino and Ryan Graves in consecutive games versus the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers. The two have been paired together for the majority of the season and have been tasked with the tough assignment of shutting down their opponent’s top lines. Head coach Lindy Ruff told the media that both blueliners were considered week-to-week and on Dec. 28 both aforementioned players were moved to injured reserve.

Best Locker Room Quote

Miles Wood with the Blow Torch

Back in November, the Devils donned their Reverse Retro gear for practice. In keeping with the spirit of the day, a few players practiced with wooden sticks, and that’s where this hilarious tale begins. In an effort to get a curve on the blade, Miles Wood decided to take a blow torch to it, and in doing so, set the stick on fire. To make things better Dawson Mercer told the media he wanted to curve his blade as well, but once he heard that Wood lit his on fire he said that he didn’t think it was a good idea.

Best Press Conference Quote

Ruff Having a Beer with the Fans

The past few months have been a whirlwind for Devils head coach Lindy Ruff. It all started when fans started “Fire Lindy” chants a few games into the season. By mid-November, he had won the fanbase back as “Sorry Lindy” chants echoed throughout Prudential Center. After their Nov. 12 victory over the Arizona Coyotes Ruff talked about it and had a hilarious response by saying, “I accept the apology. Someday us and the fans are gonna sit down and have a beer and laugh about that one.”

The Devils’ rollercoaster of a season will continue on Jan. 1 when they host the Carolina Hurricanes at Prudential Center in an afternoon matinee. Coach Ruff will look to get his team back on track as they look ahead to making the playoffs for the first time since the 2017-18 season.