Courtesy Twitter: @NJDevils

Devils fans hope to lift their team out of a season-worst slump.

The New Jersey Devils are mired in a slump. They’ve lost five of their last six games since returning to play after COVID-19 put a stop to their season and are slipping in the rankings.

Their task of winning isn’t going to get any easier as they take on the very dangerous New York Islanders on Tuesday night. The good news is that they won’t be alone in this game.

The Devils will be welcoming approximately 1,800 fans back at the Prudential Center for the first time in almost a year and will be rocking their retro jerseys while doing so.

The support of the fans is needed now more than ever. Would their presence help the team get a huge win?

Head coach Lindy Ruff would roll with the same lines, the only difference being Aaron Dell getting the start in net.

1st period: Lucky it’s 0-0

The Devils were uncharacteristically great in the faceoff circle and Dell looked awesome in net, but that was all that went well for New Jersey in the first. They’re very lucky that the Islanders didn’t have the best of periods, either.

They’d look to get on the board in the second.


2nd period: Power Plays are killers

The Devils were, by far, the better team in the second, but they still couldn’t score. They had several chances on the power play as well as many scoring opportunities at even-strength, but the puck luck just wasn’t there.

They outshot the Islanders 16-5 and a loss would be heartbreaking after they dominated play.

The Islanders have one of the best defenses in hockey and some of the best goaltending in the league, but the Devils’ offense is more than capable of scoring against elite bluelines.


3rd period: Too little, too late

The Devils even outshot the Islanders in the third, but couldn’t convert or prevent their opponents from scoring. The Islanders got two past the Devils in a bad loss.

The Devils were able to score a goal after emptying the net with about 12 seconds left, but that wasn’t enough. This was a tough loss for fans to be present for.

The Devils haven’t been creating high-danger chances lately, and that’s been a contributing factor to their failure.

In this game, they were gifted several power plays, but were unable to take advantage of them, and that proved to be costly.


Key moment: Dell’s first period save

The key moment of the game was Dell’s big save on Jean-Gabriel Pageau in the first.

Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen made a huge defensive mistake in front of his own net that Pageau hoped to take advantage of, but Dell was alert and made a great glove save to bail his teammate out.


Player of the game: Will Butcher

Yes, you’re reading this correctly. Will Butcher didn’t score or get any assists, but he was solid for his team in this tough loss.

In 18:58 TOI, Butcher had 68.42 CF% (second-highest on NJD), 0.08 iXG, two blocks, 0.66 xGF, 0.32 xGA, 0 GF, 0 GA, and 1.13 defensive rating.

Butcher deserves a ton of credit for his play this season. He hasn’t lived up to expectations since coming into the NHL and has regressed season after season since his rookie year.

He didn’t even make the team out of training camp this season and was only given a chance because of injuries and COVID-19. However, Butcher hasn’t wasted this opportunity and looks like a completely different player.

He’s been a bright spot during this rough stretch and is showing that he might just be the guy everyone expected him to be.

Stats are courtesy of Hockey Stat Cards and Natural Stat Trick.


Leen has written about the MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, and international soccer. She is currently the primary NHL writer for ESNY. Leen's work has been featured on Bleacher Report and she was formerly a contributor for FanSided's New York Mets blog, Rising Apple. She is a co-host of the Yankees-Mets Express podcast.