The New Jersey Devils are the hottest team in the NHL and have extended their winning streak to 12 straight games after beating the Ottawa Senators 5-1 yesterday afternoon. What is most impressive is the Devils are the first NHL team to sweep through Western and Eastern Canada road trips in the same season.
Musings and Thoughts
1. According to NHL.com’s Mike Morreale, New Jersey's 12-game win streak has only been done 17 times in NHL history and the team’s 8 game winning streak is third longest in franchise history. The only road loss so far this year for the Devils was the season opener loss in Philadelphia. I am sure Devils fans have erased the first two games of the season out of their memory.
2. When Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald was looking for a goaltender during the offseason, there was a concern he may have to overpay both VIA trade or free agency. Instead, Fitzy swapped the Devils’ 2nd round pick (37th overall) in exchange for the Capitals 2nd round pick(46th overall) while adding a 3rd round (70th overall) to Washington in order to get Vitek Vanecek.
At the time of the trade, we knew the Devils got a decent goaltender with experience, but was still not a sure thing. Since joining the Devils, Vanecek’s stats have been Vezina trophy worthy numbers with a 1.78 GAA, .933 save percentage, and one shutout through 9 games. And to put the cherry on top, Fitzgerald selected right handed defenseman Seamus Casey with the Capitals' 46th overall pick, who is showing great promise and playing at the University of Michigan with Luke Hughes and Ethan Edwards. Moreover, this trade is paying off early dividends but doesn't get as much media attention like the John Marino/Ty Smith trade.
3. Akira Schmid has stepped up since being recalled from Utica when Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood went down with a MCL sprain. He is 3-0-0 with a 1.34 GAA, .941 save percentage. His most impressive performance was when he had to replace Vitek Vanecek in the middle of the third period against the Ottawa Senators at the Rock on November 10th. In overtime, he made multiple spectacular saves from point blank range while being on the penalty kill. It kept this winning streak alive and he has been hot ever since.
4. Devils captain Nico Hischier had an assist against Ottawa on Yegor Sharangovich's shorthanded goal to make it 4-1 Devils before the second period ended. Hischier took a vicious cross check from Austin Watson but was okay to return. Devils are now 13-0-0 when Hischier scores.
The #NJDevils are the first U.S.-based team in NHL history with a road winning streak of 6+ games, all against Canadian clubs.