Last week, Jack Hughes hurt himself by crashing into the boards. It is an upper-body injury that has him listed as week to week. Obviously, that is a big hit to the New Jersey Devils. Every team always wants to avoid seeing their most dynamic player out.
It came at a bad time for the Devils because they were also missing captain Nico Hischier. He isn’t as dynamic offensively as Hughes but he is as good as any two-way player in the league. They are the two best players on the team and now they are both hurt.
They combined for 179 points in 2022-23 which is a lot of points for a 1-2 center punch. It is always going to be hard when you lose that kind of production due to injury. Hischier will be back before Hughes but they will both return soon enough.
In the meantime, however, the show must go on. The Devils were at the United Center on Sunday night and they took on the Chicago Blackhawks. They proved that they could win a few games without both Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes in the lineup.
The Devils beat the Blackhawks without Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier out there.
It is much harder obviously but they can get it done. With studs like Jesper Bratt, Timo Meier, Tyler Toffoli, Luke Hughes, Dougie Hamilton, Dawson Mercer, and Ondrej Palat amongst others ready to contribute, this is a strong group that believes in themselves.
It wasn’t easy early in the game as former New Jersey Devils Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall scored the first goal of the game not even three minutes in. However, that would be the last time that Chicago had a lead in the contest.
Eventually, Dawson Mercer tied it up at one. Max Willman, who was called up to replace Hischier and Hughes, scored to make it 2-1. From there, you started to see that they might be able to tread water without their two best players.
The Hawks ended up walking out of the United Center with a 4-2 victory and are now 7-3-1 on the season. They are right there with the top teams in the Eastern Conference and things haven’t even gone all that well for them yet. That is scary for the rest of the league.
Their next game is against the Colorado Avalanche who are an entirely different animal than the Chicago Blackhawks right now. With that said, they have what they need to play a tough hard road game against an elite team like Colorado.
Yes, it would be easier with Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes around but that is no excuse. This is the hardest league in the world and they need to find a way. This team has high hopes of winning big this year and people need to step up if that is going to happen.