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Hughes records his first point, Devils Record First Win

Sorry Mr. Rosen, I have to say this: the waiting is over!

For the first time this season, the New Jersey Devils won a meaningful hockey game. The 5-2 victory, which came at the expense of the New York Rangers, seems to have lifted the weight of the world off of the shoulders of the players, coaches and fans.

With expectations at an all-time high for a Devils team that was said to win the offseason, the sluggish 0-4-2 start left much to be desired. The goaltenders struggled, the defense failed to clear loose pucks and the powerplay was nonexistent. By the way, blowing two, three-goal leads on home ice is nothing to write home about either. This post is not about the negatives, though. The Devils have finally put one in the win column. The waiting is over for more than just that first victory.

  1. The waiting is over for… Jack Hughes! Congratulations to the 18-year-old rookie out of Orlando, Florida for getting the first point of his young career. Hughes has faced an incredible amount of backlash through the first six games of the season. Yes, he was the first overall pick in the 2019 entry draft. And yes, high expectations absolutely come with the territory of being picked first. The criticism though? He is incredibly young and extremely talented. The points are going to come sooner than later, believe me. Need I remind you that Steven Stamkos scored his first career point in the eighth game of his career (a secondary assist). Give the kid some time. Hughes is a dynamic skater and playmaker. He is going to be just fine.
  2. The waiting is over for… special teams! That’s right, not only were the Devils a perfect 6/6 on the penalty kill but they chipped in a powerplay goal to boot. In their first six games, New Jersey were held scoreless on the powerplay, scoring just once in eighteen attempts. They did not fare much better tonight, scoring just once on six powerplay chances. The man advantage showed much more life, though. They moved the puck into high danger chances and threw tons of pucks on net. They looked much more comfortable with a man up this time around. The penalty killers showed up in a big way. Coming into tonight, New Jersey allowed the most powerplay goals in the league. Tonight, the PK did not yield a single goal. They were the difference in the game and deserve much of the credit for that win.
  3. The waiting is over for… the fans! It has been a tough stretch since that shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets on opening night. The fans have had to sit through to blown leads, two shutouts and one blowout. You could sense the nerves in the air at the Prudential Center tonight. Every time a Ranger had the puck on their stick you could hear a collective gasp. The fans never quit, though. From the drop of the puck, the atmosphere was electric, playoff-like, even. Getting this win was sweet; getting it against the cross-river rivals is even sweeter. This is simply a building block. One win does not dig the team out of the early, self-inflicted hole… but it’s a start.

The play of second year goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood cannot go without mention. The Thunder Bay, Ontario native stopped 29 of 31 shots in his first win of the season. Blackwood knew the importance of this game. “We needed that bad. Everyone showed up to play today,” Blackwood said. “You could sense the desperation in the group and sacrifice everyone gave to the game.”

Devils head coach John Hynes also touched on a great team effort tonight. “We didn’t have any passengers tonight,” he said. “As I’ve said, we have not overreacted internally about what is going on and we haven’t liked the results but you got to stay with it.”

The desperation and sacrifice paid off. The most important thing now is for this team to get some momentum moving forward. Momentum is a funny thing. The early season struggles carried through each game. Now, New Jersey is hoping to keep this positivity going into Saturday’s contest against the Vancouver Canucks.

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