Jack Hughes, Jonas Siegenthaler, Nathan Bastian, New Jersey Devils, Ryan Graves

3 Takeaways From Devils’ 8-1 Victory Over the Blue Jackets

The New Jersey Devils earned their 50th win of the 2022-23 season on April 6th when they hosted the Columbus Blue Jackets at Prudential Center. It was a dominant performance from head coach Lindy Ruff’s squad as they earned an 8-1 victory with Jack Hughes and Timo Meier collecting two goals in addition to Tomas Tatar, Erik Haula, Damon Severson, and Ryan Graves finding the back of the net. In total 11 different Devils skaters found their names on the scoresheet while goaltender Vitek Vanecek made 16 saves on 17 shots.

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It was a night to remember as milestones were reached and franchise records continued to be chased. Here are three takeaways from the Devils’ latest victory as they continue to chase the Carolina Hurricanes and first place in the Metropolitan Divison.

Bastian Out in Favor of Sharangovich

Before the puck was dropped at center ice inside Prudential Center, fans found themselves in a tizzy because Nathan Bastian was out of the lineup.

One of the stranger statistics of the season is that with Bastian in the lineup, the Devils are 31-6-3. Without the 6-foot-4 forward, the club is 19-14-5. There could be two reasons the fourth-line winger was kept out of the game. The first could simply be because the team has depth at each position and Ruff has stated he wants to utilize every player and the second is Bastian is still not 100 percent recovered from his injury.

Nathan Bastian New Jersey Devils
Nathan Bastian, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In a recent interview with Ryan Novozinsky of NJ.com, Bastian shared some insight into the injury that kept him off the ice.

“I’ve been feeling a little bit better, I guess,” Bastian told NJ Advance Media. “I’ve been dealing with the same thing since November. A ton of games down the stretch, I’m trying to make sure I’m in as good of shape as possible to play come playoff time… It’s been tough, I’ve never had something that’s been in this tough of shape that’s lingered for this long” (from ‘Devils’ Nathan Bastian played through injury this season, feels ‘a little bit better’ with 8 games remaining”, NJ.com, 03/29/2023).

Related: Devils’ Bastian Will Be Bigger Loss Than Blackwood and Palat

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Yegor Sharangovich replaced him on the fourth line playing alongside Miles Wood and Michael McLeod. The trio had a combined 10 shots and two hits versus the Blue Jackets.

Hughes’ Memorable Night

Last night Hughes suited up for his 241st career NHL game. A little over halfway through the opening frame he skated into the offensive zone and blasted a wrist shot past Michael Hutchinson to give his team the 1-0 lead. It was the 21-year-old’s 41st goal of the 2022-23 campaign and 200th career NHL point.

By the night’s end, Hughes earned four points (two goals, two assists) and 95 points on the season. He is only one point shy of tying Patrik Elias’ franchise record of 96 points in a single season, which Elias earned in 2000-01.

“The better I do the better the team does,” Hughes said post-game. “So of course I want that record and I’m going to be here for a lot of years, so. I’d like to break it this year, but who knows? We’ll see what happens.”

Graves Reaches Milestone

Defenseman Ryan Graves appeared in his 300th career NHL game versus Columbus. After the morning skate, he reflected on the milestone.

“You’re proud and happy with that. I played a lot in the American League. I’m probably pretty close to 300 there, too,” he said. “There are times when you’re there and guys are getting called up over you, you question if this is the right path. … Sometimes things just work out. I feel blessed with how it’s worked out for me. I’ve really enjoyed my time and how’s it gone. And hopefully a lot more games.”

Ryan Graves New Jersey Devils
Ryan Graves, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He entered the contest with 98 career points. Early in the second period, he collected an assist on Tatar’s 18th goal of the season. Halfway through the third period, he lit the lamp, simultaneously earning his 100th career NHL point. He is now one goal shy of tying his career-high (nine) and two points shy of tying his career-high 28 points with three games left in the regular season.

Quick Hits and Observations

  • The 16,514 Devils fans in attendance wasted no time booing Johnny Gaudreau. The Salem, New Jersey native only played 2:15 (three shifts) before leaving the game with an illness.
  • Joining Bastian in the suites was defenseman Jonas Sigenthaler. The defenseman was a healthy scratch and after the game, Ruff said, “We are going to use all our bodies. Brendan (Smith) has been a big part of our team from the start of the year, we don’t want him sitting. If he has to go in the lineup and he’s sitting for two or three weeks it will be tough to get back in. To get him in, get him a couple of games, make sure he’s ready. He is one injury away from him playing…I thought the last time (Siegenthaler) sat out, he came back with even better hockey so it’s an opportunity to get back in the lineup next game and be a difference maker.”

  • Former New Jersey goaltender Jon Gillies entered the game in the third period relieving Hutchinson after he gave up five goals. Gillies played 17:53 and made nine saves on 12 shots.

The Devils are scheduled for a noon practice today, April 7, before leaving for Massachusetts to face the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on April 8. New Jersey is one point behind the Carolina Hurricanes who have a game at hand.

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