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Devils are on fire on fire on the ice!

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The Devils line up for the opening puck drop of the season.

The Devils line up for the opening puck drop of the season.

Jared Miller

Jared Miller

The Devils line up for the opening puck drop of the season.

Jared Miller, Sports Editor

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It has been a long five seasons for New Jersey fans, as the Devils have had little success in the past few years. They are now looking to return to the form they were in when they made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Los Angeles Kings in the 2012 season.

After being defeated in the 2012 finals, the Devils lost key players who had made the team the success that they were. They lost captain Zach Parise after he signed with his hometown team, the Minnesota Wild. Along with Parise, the Devils lost star winger Ilya Kovalchuk to the Kontinental Hockey League, a league based in his native Russia. New Jersey lost a few other veterans, including goalie Martin Brodeur, a Hall of Famer who holds multiple records and has been viewed by many as the best goalie of all time. With all of the losses that the team faced after a terrific season, the Devils still have not reached their potential, though it is beginning to look like they will finally have a successful season that the team and fans have long awaited.

General manager Ray Shero had an eventful offseason to improve upon the 28 win, 40 loss, and 14 overtime loss record, which had placed the Devils in last place in the Eastern Conference, and third to last in the entire league last season.

One addition to the team who many fans will be excited to watch this season is eighteen- year-old rookie phenom Nico Hischier, from Switzerland, who formerly played with the Halifax Mooseheads in the Junior League to prepare for the NHL.
While playing his final season in Halifax, Hischier tallied eighty-six total points in only fifty-seven games. With his speed and nifty hands, the young Swiss will be a great asset to the team.

Another young addition to the team is rookie defenseman, Will Butcher. Unlike Hischier, Butcher played for the University of Denver in the collegiate NCAA. While there, as captain in his fourth and final season, Butcher led the team to a National Championship victory and also won the Hobey Baker Award, which is seasonally awarded to the best player in the league. Butcher in the defense is a key addition to the Devils as it has had one of the worst defensive units in the entire league in seasons past.

The improvements to the defense were also seen as the Devil’s re-signed Damon Severson to a six-year contract after he came off of a career best season.
The Devils added two high-quality players to help lead the team for the next few seasons. Center Brian Boyle has signed a two-year deal to bring a strong presence to the team; Shero did the same with Drew Stafford, a winger who has had success in the past. Swedish forward, Marcus Johansson, was traded to the Devils in exchange for two second round draft picks. Johansson had a career high season with 58 points while playing with the Washington Capitals and will boost the Devils’ scoring.
The Devils preseason was a successful one as the team finished the seven game stretch with five wins, one loss, and one overtime loss. One of those young stars, Hischier, showed his talent by scoring four goal in four games, also tacking on some assists. There are three players on the team in the top six for preseason point leaders for the league, and if the Devils can continue this into the regular season, the outcome will be the one for which Devils fans have been desperately waiting.

The start of the season was an early success for the Devils when they hosted the Colorado Avalanche in their season opener. In a 4-1 victory, the young stars emerged to lead the Devils to their first win of the season. Rookie defenseman Will Butcher was the first star of the game, tallying three assists, not only helping the Devils win, but also becoming the first New Jersey Devil player to get three points in his NHL debut. Sixth-round draft pick Jesper Bratt scored his first NHL goal late in the second period to give the Devils a 3-1 record. Next, the Devils travelled to the Buffalo Sabres where the Devils offense exploded, getting the 6-2 win with two goals from Jesper Bratt and Marcus Johansson. Nico Hischier earned his first point in the NHL as well, after getting the primary assist on the second goal of the game scored by Brian Gibbons.

The next game that the Devils played was against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Playing against such an explosive offense truly put the New Jersey Devils to the test, as the Devils defense had been one of their most prominent struggles in the past. After falling to an early lead of 1-0, the Devils struck back quickly after two goals scored by the speedy Miles Wood. Both goals were assisted by rookie Will Butcher, giving him a total of five assists early in the season.

In the second period, the Devils second year player Pavel Zacha scored on the powerplay to give the Devils the lead once again. Brian Gibbons also recorded his second goal of the season and it occurred while the team had two players in the penalty box. The Devils finished the game with a 6-3 victory improving to 3-0-0.

Jared Miller
Fans anxious as the Devils warm up for their first game of the season.

Next the Devils faced the Washington Capitals where they fell to a 5-2 score. The next day the Devils travelled to play rival New York Rangers. The Devils fell to an early deficit after backup goalie Keith Kinkaid kept the game to a close score. The Devils then went on to tie the game with a goal from Adam Henrique, and later took the lead with a deflection from Miles Wood.
At the point in the season, Devil fans have a lot to look forward to. With one of the best records in the league and young talent emerging, the success of the season has no limits. It may not be the Stanley Cup winning team that every fan wants, but it sure is a place to start. Let’s Go Devils!

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Devils are on fire on fire on the ice!