The New Jersey Devils have had a tough season and they still find themselves in the postseason race. The Eastern Conference is very competitive and they are still in it despite injuries, poor goaltending, and odd coaching decisions.
They are 25-20-3 which is good for 53 points in the standings. They trail the Detroit Red Wings by five points in the Wild Card race but they have played two fewer games.
They also trail the Philadelphia Flyers by five points in the race for a Metropolitan Division top-three spot. They've played three fewer games than them. They are still very much in this race.
Well, New Jersey is getting a major boost to their lineup on Thursday night when they host the Calgary Flames at Prudential Center.
The New Jersey Devils are getting Jack Hughes back from injury
Jack Hughes is coming back after missing the last 11 games due to injury. He injured himself against the Chicago Blackhawks on 1/5/24. It has been a tough stretch for the Devils since then but they are getting their superstar back.
Hughes is one of the best players in the NHL right now. Hughes has only played in 32 games this season and he has 45 points. That is a full season (82 games) pace of 115 points. That would have him in the Hart Trophy conversation.
With the bad luck that this team has had this season, individual awards are irrelevant right now. Getting into the playoffs and giving themselves a chance at making a run is still possible. That is the new focus.
Having a premier player like Hughes available will do wonders for that quest. There are so many areas of the game that he is going to help them.
They had one of the league's top power plays at the time of Hughes' injury. It has taken a major dip since he has been gone. You'd think that they will get back on track now that he is in the lineup again. He makes that much of a difference.
At 5-on-5, he is going to start on a line with Tyler Toffoli and Alexander Holtz. Both of those guys are going to love having him back in the lineup.
Everyone on this team is better when Hughes is playing. Lindy Ruff is a better coach. Vitek Vanecek is a better goalie. Nico Hischier can focus on his role even more. It is all better.
This is the closest the team is going to look when Tom Fitzgerald was piecing it together over the summer. A couple of key defensemen are still out but they have to deal with that until they return. Getting their superstar back is a great start.