Coming into this season, hockey experts everywhere had New Jersey pegged for last place and the sportsbooks had their season win total among the lowest in the Eastern Conference.
Oops, might have missed that one. The Devils have been in first or second place in the Metropolitan Division the entire first quarter of the season and have been a Top 5 choice for NHL picks. What happened to make New Jersey far better than anticipated?
The Devils are a young squad and have a number of offensive-minded players that have grown up quickly and shown a great deal of creativity. First-year players like Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt can really skate and shown a flair for racking up points and New Jersey is ninth in scoring to this points. (as of 11/24)
Rookie defenseman Will Butcher is skilled with the puck and knows how to setup teammates and 'old man' Taylor Hall, who is 26, came over from Edmonton is leading by example.
Looking ahead, not sure the Devils can keep up this pace. Defensively, New Jersey is 20th in the league, but when looking at the NHL odds daily, it is impossible to ignore they are last in puck possession in the entire league when playing 5 on 5. Over the course of an 82-game season, that catches up to any team.
The Devils have succeeded because of their youth, but ultimately it will be their undoing when they starting sliding in the standings.Agree or disagree? Voice your opinion on SBR's NHL Forum