The month of October was refreshing and exciting for the New Jersey Devils. They were able to rack up nine points with a record of 4-2-1. The opening month of the season brought high points, such as Dawson Mercer showing why he made the team, Jonathan Bernier being exactly what the Devils needed, and the vastly improved play of Andreas Johnsson. However, the month also brought a few low points like Jack Hughes’ injury in Game 2 against the Seattle Kraken, news that Miles Wood will likely be out for a while, and the Devils meeting their Achilles’ heel in shootout losses, where the team has a bad history.
The refreshing part of the month was watching New Jersey play teams that were not in the dominant East Division from the prior season. Playing the Kraken, Chicago Blackhawks, and Calgary Flames were exciting games to watch because the teams have not met since 2019-20. As the season rolls into November, the Devils will look to expand on their winning record and find consistency in their play. They must do this while filling Hughes’ and Wood’s absences on the roster. On the contrary, Mackenzie Blackwood is very close to making his season debut after traveling with the team to Pittsburgh. The young goaltender will be a welcome addition after Scott Wedgewood was winless in two games for New Jersey. November will be an exciting month for the team and will feature many must-watch games!
Florida Panthers – Nov. 9
Going into the month, the team to beat in the NHL is the Panthers. The Atlantic Division team started their season with an impressive 8-0-1 record and collected 17 points, the most in the league. According to NaturalStatTrick, the team has scored 36 goals while only allowing 17 goals in nine games. In addition, Florida has a power-play percentage (PP%) of 20 percent, which is tied for 15th in the league. Their penalty kill is ranked eighth in the league and operating at 86.1 percent. Despite head coach Joel Quenneville resigning from his position, the Panthers have everything going for them right now.
The last time that the Devils and Panthers met was on Feb. 20, 2020. New Jersey lost by a score of 5-3 and had goals from Hughes, Kevin Rooney, and Kyle Palmieri. It will be exactly 628 days since the last meeting and both teams look very different since then. Due to not playing each other for so long, the teams will have to get a feel for one another during the game. The Devils will have to bring their A-game against the Panthers as they are shaping up to be one of the league’s top teams. The game will be fast and full of talent that is sure to bring many exciting scoring chances and moments.
New York Rangers – Nov.14
The Hudson River rivalry will be renewed for another season on Nov. 14! After meeting with each other eight times in the East Division, the Devils and New York Rangers will go at it again starting at Madison Square Garden this month. The Rangers led the season series 6-2 in the shortened 58-game season but fell short of making the playoffs. This season, they began their first nine games with a 6-2-1 record. Goaltender Igor Shesterkin has been lights out for the Blueshirts and has stolen a few games for the team. However, New York is still waiting for a few players to make an impact such as Kaapo Kakko, Filip Chytil, Jacob Trouba, and Ryan Strome.
As the Devils and Rangers have met in recent years, the games have been very back and forth. Since the 2018-19 season, the Devils have won seven games while the Rangers have won nine. Both teams have racked up young talent and have been trying to get more and more competitive every season. This makes the first match-up between the teams an exciting and unpredictable game. After two very different offseasons, the teams have a different roster than last season. New York focused on adding size and grit by adding Ryan Reaves, Patrick Nemeth, and Sammy Blais. New Jersey looked to add proven NHL talent in Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Graves, and Tomas Tatar. With the new additions and growth of young players, the match-up between the longtime rivals is sure to be a must-watch game!
Tampa Bay Lightning – Nov. 20
It will be exactly 628 days since the Devils and Tampa Bay Lightning last played when New Jersey travels to Tampa for their Nov. 20 game. Since then, Tampa Bay has won two Stanley Cups and has been the powerhouse of the NHL for a season and a half. In their last meeting, New Jersey won 3-1 with goals from Andy Greene, Travis Zajac, and Wood. Along with the Devils having a new look this season, the Lightning are no different. Due to cap space, Tampa Bay had to say goodbye to their third line made up of Barclay Goodrow, Blake Coleman, and Yanni Gourde. Tampa Bay does not have the depth that they once did, but will still be a top team in the league.
Coming into the season as the youngest team in the league, the Devils will want to prove their growth by going against the defending champions. Playing against players like Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Nikita Kucherov is always a challenge and will require New Jersey to step up to the plate. When playing the Lighting, every area of a team’s game will be showcased. From the special teams to the offense and defense, the Lightning will push every area hard. Watching how the Devils will play against the top team will tell a lot about how much the team has grown after an active offseason.
Philadelphia Flyers – Nov. 28
Another rivalry will be renewed in November. The battle of the turnpikes will start on Nov. 28 when the Devils host the Philadelphia Flyers during Hockey Fights Cancer night at Prudential Center. According to Dobber’s Frozen Tools, Philadelphia has the same points percentage as the Devils to end October. Both teams have a point percentage of 0.643 percent and a record of 4-2-1. The two teams split the eight-game series last season with each team winning four games. Like the Devils, the Flyers added many new pieces during the offseason, such as Keith Yandle, Cam Atkinson, and Rasmus Ristolainen. Also, unlike prior seasons, Flyers goaltender Carter Hart has been solid for the team, posting a 2.79 goals-against average (GAA) and .915 save percentage (SV%) through five games played.
For every team in the Metropolitan Division, each division match-up will be crucial. The division will surely be a very tight race and will most likely have teams that occupy the two East wild card positions. Therefore, these games will be must-wins for the Devils to gain separation from Metro teams. The teams will see new versions of themselves in the match-up and look to set the tone during the season series.
November will be fun and unpredictable for Devils fans as they wait to see where their team can go this season. The month will bring rivalry games, more away games, and a better understanding of how this new Devils team will look. Make sure you tune in for these must-watch Devils games for November!
Erica Rosenbaum is a New Jersey Devils writer for The Hockey Writers. She is currently attending Rutgers University and pursuing a Sports Management degree. She has run a Devils Instagram page since 2016 and previously wrote for AllNySports.