Update On Hughes’ Shoulder And The Devils’ Offensive Outlook Without Him

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 15: Jack Hughes #86 of the New Jersey Devils celebrates his goal at 17:58 of the second period against the Chicago Blackhawks at the Prudential Center on October 15, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Update

The Devils today on twitter announced that Jack Hughes’ dislocated shoulder is not worse than they expected. After meeting with his surgeon for the one-week follow up visit Devils fans finally got some clarity on the extent of the injury. The Devils star center will be re-evaluated in 5 weeks. From today that timeline leads us to December 3rd when the Devils take on the Winnipeg Jets. Assuming he does not play that night, the next game won’t be until December 8th. However in the Devils’ news release, the forwards timeline will be adjusted accordingly based on his progress. That leaves hope for an earlier return or on the down side possibly a little longer. Now, more than a week removed from the game against the Kraken where Hughes suffered the injury, five weeks may sound like forever. To put it in perspective, Hughes will only miss 18 games between now and then. It is a long season and hope should not be lost.

The Outlook

The offense has looked pretty grimace without Hughes in the lineup. The Devils have scored 8 goals (one empty netter) in 3 games and 2 periods without the face of the franchise. The first periods against the Capitals, Sabres, and Flames were flat out ugly. The Devils were outscored 7-0 during that span. The Devils went 1-2 over those three games, so what has to happen for them to stay afloat till the return of Jack Hughes?

  • What needs to continue:

Pavel Zacha has 5 points in 5 games including 4 goals so he needs to continue to fill the net.

Dougie Hamilton has 4 points in 5 games with a +2 rating. Hamilton needs to continue his solid play and make his veteran presence felt.

Dawson Mercer. The rookie is simply all over the place playing his heart out every shift tallying 4 points in 5 games as well.

Other notables doing well are Tatar, Severson, and Graves

  • What needs to start happening:

Sharangovich in year two he has not lived up to his expectations. Although he has 3 assists his play doesn’t seem to be there and has 0 goals so far.

Hischier. Not a total knock on the captain but a little more spark is needed from him. He has 1g 1a through 5 games. However he is +3, blocks shots, and has been great on face-offs.

  • Major disappointments:

Bratt as expected flies around the ice with elusive skating and puck handling but for whatever reason can’t find himself on the score sheet. Two many moves or forced “pretty plays”? Probably. He needs to use his skillset but not over do it. Zero points in 5 games on the top line is not going to fly.

Subban. Many fans had hoped his diminished role this year would lead to better play. It hasn’t with his -4 rating and 0 points on the year. Too many visible mistakes and he simply looks like a liability on the ice a lot of the time.

Final Take

Can the Devils stay .500 or better over the next 18 games? Absolutely. Will it be difficult? Absolutely. The Devils top line of Zacha-Hischier-Bratt needs to act like a top line and provide offense. Secondary scoring needs to come from guys like Tatar, Sharangovich, and Mercer. If the defense can stay healthy this is not too much to ask for. It is time for the Devils to take the “next man up approach” and prove to the league that they are legitimate.

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