No. 1 – Lindy Ruff
New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff is the No. 1 X-Factor in their series against the New York Rangers in the first round of the 2022-23 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It says a lot about a persion’s character that when faced with boos raining from thousands of disrgruntled fans chanting “fire Lindy”, you’re not only able to keep your cool, but lead your team to the most wins in franchise history.
Lundy Ruff is enterring the playoffs with a massive chip on his shoulder and he has coached his team to play with this same energy; as underdogs. This is the energy of Newark, New Jersey and the Devils wear it on their sleeve.
However, there is one cause for concern when it comes to Lindy Ruff’s coaching, and it’s his tendency to shuffle lineups on a nightly basis.
Lindy’s coaching technique is taylored towards rewarding players for good performence and playing the hot hand to get the win. With 52 wins on the year, its been pretty, pretty successful thus far. Though the playoffs are a different animal.
In a seven game series, shuffling lines on a nightly basis can not only fail to produce chemistry, but it can damage a player’s confidence when they’re not playing a consistent role each night. This was a major adjustment for star Timo Meier in particular, who was acquired from the San Jose Sharks via a blockbuster trade.
Since then, Meier has found his stride with the Devs and all seems fine for now. To look in a more positive lens, Lindy Ruff not only stuck through a rocky start to the season, but he flipped the team around overnight and came within two points of leading the Metropolitan Division.
These 3 X-Factors will be the difference between succeeding or failing the first real test of this team. We’ll find out soon enough on Tuesday night for Game 1 of the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the New Jersey Devils and the New York Rangers in the much anticipated Battle of the Hudson.