After their fist loss in a month, the Devils get right back on track with a convincing victory in Buffalo.
The Devils historic 13 game win streak came to an end with a disappointing and controversial loss to Toronto on Wednesday night in Newark. The Devils bounced back from that defeat with a stress free victory in Buffalo on Friday night. The Devils out shot the Sabres 44-34 and Akira Schmid played outstanding making 33 saves. Eight different Devils earned points, proving once again that the Devils have the depth to compete with any team in the NHL.
Akira Schmid. Wow. I’m not sure what he did over the summer but whatever it was, every goalie should be doing it because Schmid is rapidly turning from a middle of the road prospect into a potential NHL starter. Schmid was the Devils fifth round pick in 2018 and is only in his second professional season in North America. Last year, Schmid played in six NHL games and was clearly not ready for the NHL. He had a save percentage of .883 and a goals against average of 4.83. He had a solid year in the AHL for Utica but was clearly the number two behind Nico Daws. Well, now Schmid is getting another shot in the NHL due to another Mackenzie Blackwood injury and he is quickly proving that he belongs in the NHL. Those stats he has put up so far this year are unbelievable. Better than video game numbers After just four games this year, and ten in his NHL career, it is still too early for us to be calling Schmid the future of the Devils goaltending, but he has been spectacular in all of his games so far this season. The Devils can feel confident giving Vitek Vanecek a rest and know that they won’t be screwed by inept goaltending. Schmid is now making it tough for the Devils to keep him out of the net. It is unlikely he will play the second half of the back to back against Washington, but I wouldnt be surprised if coach Ruff put him in goal in MSG on Monday night.
Tomas Tatar was a big disappointment last year. With only 15 goals and 15 assists in 76 games, he fell well short of the expectations he came into New Jersey with. Well, so far this year, Tatar is the player the Devils thought they were signing in the summer of 2021. He now has 13 points in 21 games and is providing an offensive threat from the second and third lines. Tatar is on pace for 50 points and almost 20 goals right now, which would soar past the 30 points that he put up last season. The Devils brought in Tatar for scoring depth and veteran leadership. This year he is finally providing both of those assets and the Devils are way more complete team as a result. No team can compete for the playoffs with just a few guys carrying the offense, and the Devils finally have a team deep enough to be a real threat to make the playoffs and go on a run. This will only become more evident when Ondrej Palat returns from injury in a few weeks.
By now, I think every Devils fan knows the stat that over the last 20 years, 75% of the teams in playoff position at American Thanksgiving end the season in the playoffs. Well we are past Thanksgiving now and not only are the Devils in playoff position, but they are comfortably in first place in the division. It is not too early to say that we have a playoff team in the Garden State. They have now won 17 of the last 19 games and show no sign of slowing down now. They are getting production from all four lines, the defense continues to shut down the opposition, and the goaltending is far above league average right now. I love this team. You can follow me on Twitter at PatBoooooth. Let’s Go Devils!