Devils Fans Learned a Lot But Questions Remain After October

The New Jersey Devils concluded their first month of hockey with an overall record of 4-2-1. There were highlight-reel moments, and a period of hockey that led to fans booing the team off the ice — but I won’t talk about those 20 minutes of play. The first month of the season has been a rollercoaster that has been exciting for fans to watch.

October has now concluded, and we are looking ahead to another month of Devils’ hockey. Fans were left with a feeling of hope thanks to some individual standout performances, while other players provided concern and more questions than answers as the season continues to move forward. Let’s break down some things fans learned and still question after the Devils’ first seven games.

What Devils’ Fans Learned

Dawson Mercer Is Legit

During a recent post game press conference Corey Masisak of The Athletic grabbed the microphone to ask coach Lindy Ruff a question. He began by saying it feels like we talk about Dawson Mercer after every game, and the fact of the matter is we do. The 20-year-old forward forced his way onto the ice and became a fan favorite in New Jersey in the past month.

Mercer is a rookie who grabs your attention every time he skates onto the ice. He annoys his opponents, and has been able make his linemates better. It was not a fluke that he made the team out of training camp — each game he shows why he deserves to play in the NHL. When Jack Hughes went down with injury, the question on everyone’s mind was who is going to step up. The simple answer? Dawson Mercer.

Dougie Hamilton Living Up to Expectations

The first month of the 2021-22 season was a good one for Dougie Hamilton. He finished with two goals and six points. The 6-foot-6 defenseman is averaging 22 minutes of ice time per game. As expected, he quarterbacked the Devils’ power play and leads the team with two points on the man advantage.

“I’ve been really impressed so far,” coach Ruff said. “Watching him shoot the puck and get pucks through in a couple of those drills, where he shot them… a foot off the ice, 18 inches off the ice, getting pucks through, how quick he got them through. That coupled with the fact he skates so well that I think he’s really going to be an important piece for us.”

The pressure will continue to be on Hamilton as the team works to improve their power play. The good news for fans is that has delivered on the ice so far. Special teams has been a concern for the Devils for quite some time and won’t become a success overnight. Unfortunately for fans, this one will require some patience.

Andreas Johnsson’s Comeback Performance

Andreas Johnsson may be the biggest surprise for the Devils so far. Last season he played in 50 games and scored five goals earning 11 points. He had four goals in seven games played in October. The Swedish forward was vocal about his disappointment last season, and has been on a tear since New Jersey’s season opener, earning six points, which is tied for the team’s lead.

“It feels good, ” said Johnsson about his play this season. “I feel like I’m working hard, and I feel more confident with the system. I feel like I can create more chances right now, and anticipate the game better. It’s nice to get a couple points.”

Related: Devils’ Johnsson Shines in Opening Night Victory

What Question Devils’ Fans Still Have

Will Ty Smith Suffer from a Sophomore Slump?

Is it safe to say every player fears the dreaded sophomore slump? It happens to the best of them, and is something the player needs to work through. Ty Smith missed training camp and the first few games due to injury. There was clear rust in his first few games, but that was expected. He appeared in four games through October, and did not register a point.

P.K. Subban was asked by media his thoughts on Smith and specifically the turnover that led the Columbus Blue Jackets goal in the third period.

New Jersey Devils Ty Smith
New Jersey Devils Ty Smith (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

“Ty is going to be a superstar in this league,” said Subban. “I love his game as a player, and you have to remember he missed all of training camp. It’s tough and he is still working out the kinks in his game. It’s just some tough bounces for him. He is one of our best defenseman and we are going to need him. I’m not worried about Ty. He has all the talent in the world.”

When Will Yegor Sharangovich Score his First Goal?

Yegor Sharangovich was scoreless in seven games. He registered three assists in the month of October, and had 12 shots on goal. The 23-year-old’s confidence is not where it needs be, and Ruff benching him during their game against the Calgary Flames did not help in that regard.

Yegor Sharangovich New Jersey Devils
Yegor Sharangovich, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Once he gets his first goal his confidence will improve — as a result, so will his shot attempts and everything else. Last season he appeared in 54 games and finished his rookie campaign with 30 points. Like Smith, the 6-foot-2 forward received votes for the Calder Trophy and finished 10th in voting. Could Sharangovich be battling the sophomore slump? It’s too early to tell.

Related: Devils Must-Watch Games in November

Overall, fans should be happy with the Devils’ opening month of hockey. The team brought in a few new faces, and obviously there is an adjustment period to learn the coaching staff’s system. November began with a California road trip before the team heads back to Prudential Center on Nov. 9, 2021.


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