Reasons why the New Jersey Devils will and won’t make the Playoffs

The New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Lindy Ruff
Head coach Lindy Ruff of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

For #2: Lindy Ruff

Eyebrows were raised when the New Jersey Devils hired veteran Lindy Ruff as their new Head Coach during the offseason but, and while it is still early, it has proved to be an inspired appointment so far.

Ruff has been a perfect fit for this team and he’s allowing the franchise’s young talent to truly flourish in his system. I mean, Jack Hughes has looked a different player in his sophomore season and is thriving in a system that places emphasis on speed, while rookie defenseman Ty Smith is also benefiting from Ruff’s up-tempo system.

Just look at how the Devils absolutely dominated the New York Rangers in a 5-2 win on Tuesday night. They absolutely swarmed the Blueshirts, refused to let up at any point and just smothered them with their relentless speed, skill and aggressive play on the forecheck.

Ruff’s system is built to allow the team’s most offensive weapons and most skilled players to truly shine, and we have seen that so far with the likes of Hughes, Smith, Yegor Sharangovich, Andreas Johnsson and now Kyle Palmieri, who could be on the cusp of getting hot.

It is a lot of fun to watch and it is also a system that encourages defensemen to jump up in the play and join the rush, and if Lindy Ruff can continue to get the best out of his young talent on this roster while using his wealth of experience to guide them through the ups and downs of a gruelling NHL season, then maybe, just maybe, that could be enough to see the New Jersey Devils sneak into the Playoffs.

After all, good coaching can take a team a long way in the NHL.

Nico Hischier (13)
Nico Hischier #13 of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

For #3: Nico Hischier’s return

As exciting and as impressive as the New Jersey Devils have been this year, the most intriguing part is that they have started the 2020-21 season with a 6-3-2 record without their No. 1 center in Nico Hischier, who has been recovering from a leg injury suffered during the offseason.

It has been pretty remarkable that the Devils have managed to stay above water without one of their franchise cornerstones in Hischier, who has the potential and the ceiling to develop into an elite two-way center in the NHL.

He can log big minutes, he’s good in the faceoff circle, he’s responsible defensively, he can play a 200-foot game, he can play in all situations and he can produce a boatload of offense, so the fact that the Devils could have the 22-year-old back in the next couple of weeks should give their postseason aspirations a huge boost.

Next. Three Flyers who need to step up at Lake Tahoe. dark

After all, not only will Nico Hischier return and give this team yet another elite weapon on the top-line, but it will also balance out the rest of their lineup with the dynamic Jack Hughes dropping to the second-line, giving the New Jersey Devils an elite one-two punch down the middle and also giving this team two explosive forward lines that could well propel them towards the Stanley Cup Playoffs, especially if Hischier can hit the ground running upon his return.