The New Jersey Devils appear to be rejuvenated as the calendar turns to 2020 and it’s resulting in some fun hockey on the ice.
Interim head coach Alain Nasreddine can finally smile during his postgame press conferences. Dreams do come true, after all.
While the Islanders are 11-4-0 against New Jersey in their last 15 contests, the Devils and general manager Ray Shero are finally offering fans assurance for 2020.
It’s apparent there’s a different vibe amongst the players and with their energy on the ice and since the Taylor Hall trade back in December. The Devils woke up one day in December and realized they’re an NHL team that has nothing to lose.
After watching the @NJDevils beat the @NHLBruins at The Rock in a shootout, I've come to the conclusion that New Jersey is a better team without their now-gone superstar.
In simple terms they're playing like a team with some clutch goaltending to boot.
— Stan Fischler (@StanFischler) January 1, 2020
New Jersey’s skaters are starting to find a rhythm on the ice. That was apparent on Tuesday afternoon when the Devils notched a shootout victory over the first-place Boston Bruins. Jersey fans have been waiting all season to see that type of heart and willingness.
It didn’t hurt that rookie goaltender, MacKenzie Blackwood, acted as the Bruins’ worst nightmare. The 23-year-old gave New Jersey a chance to win with his commendable performance and timely saves.
Hear Coach Nasreddine talk to media prior to facing the New York Islanders, including the absence of forward Jack Hughes. pic.twitter.com/rLTvvZNGS4
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) January 2, 2020
In fact, it was the best and most entertaining game all season for New Jersey and the crowd appreciated every second of the team’s efforts.
Jack Hughes and Jesper Boqvist aren’t the only players lacing up the skates recently with a sense of confidence and swagger. Just observe Blake Coleman, Wayne Simmonds, and Nikita Gusev. Sure, Coleman has been a positive constant in the lineup for most of the 2019-20 campaign, but he’s leading the squad with his fire and edge—just ask Bruins’ 6-foot-9 defenseman Zdeno Chara after he was knocked down by the 5-foot-11 forward.
Damon Severson scored in the sixth round of the shootout to help secure the Devils 3-2 shootout win over the Boston Bruins. The #NJDevils close out 2019 with points in four straight games!@amandacstein reports. pic.twitter.com/cCTbl7OvSs
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) December 31, 2019
When a skater like Hall departs from a team, there’s an opportunity for others to rise and take the reins.
Potential trades for skaters such as defenseman Sami Vatanen or forward Kyle Palmieri will remain question marks until the trade deadline passes, but one thing for certain is that fans are now assured the Devils won’t go down without a fight.
The win over Boston was a statement victory that provided a sense of hope which was long overdue. Watching Devils hockey is fun again, no?