5 players who led the New Jersey Devils to the top spot
The New Jersey Devils are enjoying one of the best starts in franchise history. After sweeping their road trip in Western Canada, they are 9-3-0. At the time of writing, the Devils are sitting atop the Metropolitan Division. After the Carolina Hurricanes lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night, the Devils led the division by every metric (points and point percentage).
This is a wild start to the season. After losing the first two games of the season, it looked like it was going to be another season for the Devils. The Devils then won nine of their next ten games. Lindy Ruff went from feeling “fire to Lindy” at home saving his job. Ruff has done a good job fixing this ship, but that’s up to the players. They are the reason the Devils won nine of their first 12 games. They are the reason the analytics are off the charts.
Some players are making a real difference on the ice. Some players have been waiting to see something like this for a long time. Others are new to the franchise. The Devils would not be in this position without these five players.
5. Jack Hughes
It seems crazy that the Devils’ franchise player is only the fifth most important during a 9-3 start. This is the situation of this team. Jack Hughes has been good, don’t get us wrong, but he hasn’t been, like, the global superstar he’s been in the past.
Hughes has 12 points in 12 games. He’s literally a points-per-game player, and fans still say Hughes hasn’t hit his ceiling. That’s mostly because we’ve seen Hughes in his prime, and this isn’t it. Hughes is eighth on the team in CorsiFor Percentage, fourth in first assists and fourth in goals (all stats via Natural Stat Trick). He’s been good even in his counting stats, but his underlying stats are even better.
Hughes is first on the team in singles xG. He’s also second on the team in high-danger individual chances with 22. Only Nico Hischier has more. While he may not be the team’s most important player as most would expect him to be, Hughes is still incredibly important to the Devils’ starting lineup.
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