2017 is in the rear-view mirror, as we head into the 2018 portion of the NHL season. The last few months provided lots of twists and turns. We have an expansion team that is threatening to not only make a push at the playoffs, but looking to do much more. Elsewhere, the Penguins enter 2018 with a record hovering around .500, and the New Jersey Devils are a 22-10-4 hockey team. What? Yeah, the Golden Knights are 26-9-0, the Devils are 22-10-4, while the Penguins are sitting at 19-8-2.
Exactly how everyone wrote it up. Will the Knights and Devils fizzle out and start to fade? You almost expect it to happen at some point, but they’ve already surpassed the period of when most said they’d collapse. When Vegas was heating up, I said we’d see some regression from the Knights in the second-half of the season. We’ll see what happens for them after the All-Star break. Just reaching the playoffs, let alone winning a series, would be a major accomplishment.
The Devils are holding strong as well, and had a pretty good December with a record of 8-4-2. They are coming off a couple of losses in a row, which came against the Sabres and Capitals. Two of the Devils’ regulation losses have come against the Caps this season. While they sport an impressive record, the Devils are not an elite level just yet. Nevertheless, they’ve taken down some big boys recently, as they’ve had wins over the Kings, Rangers, and Blackhawks within their last ten games.
There is a lot of youth on this team who could put them over the hump in the future. The Devils have four rookies in their starting lineup, including 18-year-old Nico Hischier who the Devils selected with the first pick in the draft. The Swiss has been solid with 7 goals and 17 assists. The Devils haven’t made the playoffs since 2012 but they have the inside track here. Head below for our free Devils vs. Blues pick.
N.J. Devils vs. St. Louis Blues Pick
The emergence of Taylor Hall has really helped the Devils out. It’s evident that Hall has found his confidence again, and having much more fun than he was in the twilight of his career in Edmonton. Hall has scored 12 goals and 24 assists. He’s already on pace to surpass his numbers from last season. He’s also happy to be on a winning team, something he wasn’t able to see with the Oilers. The Devils have an offence that they haven’t seen in the past. They’re averaging 3.11 goals per game, 8th in the NHL. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Devils in the top-10 offensively.
The Blues enter with a record of 24-15-2, and going just 13-8-0 at home. They haven’t done much to convince people that they are finally going to get over the hill in the playoffs. I don’t know if there’s anything they could do, though. The Blues have played atop the standings before, and just watch it all go in the toilet come playoff time.
They’re coming off a 3-2 win against the Hurricanes, but have won just three of their last ten games. In their last ten games, the offence has netted just 1.5 goals per game. Conversely, the Devils have scored 3.3 per game. The Blues have won seven straight games over the Devils, including a 3-1 win in November. If you’ve been tailing the Devils this season, you would be making decent coin. They have been undervalued all season long, and I think in this game at +135, they aren’t getting much respect. With this price, the Devils are certainly worth a selection against the Blues.
PICK: DEVILS (+135)