Devils record 13-game winning streak

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New Jersey Devils can no longer sneak up on the team.

This once laughable underdog has gone from missing the Stanley Cup playoffs nine times in the past 10 years to the hottest team in the NHL right now.

Coach Lindy Ruff’s young squad, largely unknown outside of top rookies Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes, beat the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 on Monday night for their 13th straight win, chasing the Tied the team history record. That score could drop Wednesday at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“It’s something I don’t even want to talk about because I don’t want to bring bad luck to it,” Love said. “But I know we’re looking at a lot of different ways to win, a lot of different people, and I think the big part is that it’s really about the team. At any given moment, there’s someone who’s coming out for us, scoring big goals, making big saves, Special teams played a big role in that.”

The Devils’ other 13-game winning streak came in 2001, when New Jersey lost seven games to Colorado in the cup final. The 13 games are tied for fifth-longest in NHL history, four fewer than the record set by Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1993.

The last time the Devils lost was a 6-3 loss to Washington on Oct. 24.

PHOTOS: Devils set record 13-game winning streak

Since then, they have overtaken their opponents 56-24, averaging 4.31 goals and 35 shots per game. They swept Canada on two road trips, beating Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa twice and Montreal and Toronto once. They also defeated the defending champion Avalanche.

New Jersey’s 16-3 record is second only to the Boston Bruins’ 17-2 record in the league.

“I don’t know if we have something to prove, really,” said Hughes, the No. 1 overall pick in 2019. We’ve played 20 games and we’re in great shape. I think the team is starting to realize we’re not an easy game to get crushed, we’re a really good team. They’re coming to New Jersey now, and they’re going to have to work hard for the win. “

In the previous four seasons, the Devils had won 31, 28, 19 and 27 respectively, finishing seventh or eighth in the Metropolitan Division. Their longest winning streaks over the past two seasons have both been three games.

“For me, it’s definitely one of the funnest phases I’ve been a part of, and I don’t want it to end,” said Devils captain Shihir, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 draft. “It’s been fun, enjoyable. Keep riding the wave. We’re playing some good hockey and hopefully the wins keep coming.”

The team was very different from the one former general manager Lou Lamoriello put together in the 1990s and early 2000s to win three cups. That’s a bunch of stars. Goalie Martin Broad is a Hall of Famer. Defensive linemen Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermeier were perennial All-Stars, while forwards, such as Patrick Elias, were outstanding two-way players.

General manager Tom Fitzgerald’s team is more of a team. There’s no question that Hughes, 21, is becoming a star, and Shihir is starting to play alongside forward Jesper Blatt, who may be one of the most underrated players in the NHL.

Dougie Hamilton, a big-name free agent signed a year ago, leads a solid defense that doesn’t allow too many shots. Those who are passing are held back by free-agent signee Vitek Vanecek, who is 9-1.

That was a big weakness last season for the Devils, who replaced seven goalies during an injury-riddled season that also saw Hughes and Hamilton sidelined for a significant amount of time.

Of the 20 players who dressed New Jersey on Monday night, 12 were 25 or younger.

Blatt, who led the Devils with 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists), said the Devils are taking advantage of their depth, speed and dedication to the defensive zone.

“We had four lines and three D’s that made a big impact and our goaltending advantage was probably the biggest impact,” Blatter said. “So our collective effort as a team is what allows us to win games now.”

If there was one thing the Oilers repeated after the game when asked about the Devils, it was this: “They’re fast!”

“They moved the puck well and they got a good hold on the puck in the O,” Oilers defenseman Tyson Barry said. “They have a lot of skill and they don’t give you too much space offensively. They are playing a good team game right now. Their goalkeeper is doing well and everything is going in their favour.”

It’s worth noting that the season didn’t start out that way. New Jersey lost its first two games and trailed early at home to Anaheim in its next game when fans started chanting “Fire Lindy.” Earlier this month, the catchphrase changed to “Sorry Lindy” as the Devils won.

That’s how the devil works these days. Everyone is happy.

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