Hischier: Devils ‘can surprise’ and make playoffs this season

Posted: 02/09/2022 in NHL
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The New Jersey Devils have missed the playoffs for four consecutive campaigns, but captain Nico Hischier is confident his young squad can make the jump this season.

“I do believe. I think we can surprise,” the 23-year-old said during a recent interview with NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti. “I do believe we have a good team, and I’m excited if we stay all healthy to see how dangerous we can be.”

The Devils made the postseason during Hischier’s rookie season in 2017-18, but they were eliminated in the first round by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Swiss product said New Jersey’s recent failures to qualify for the playoffs have been “challenging” and that he puts a lot of pressure on himself.

“I learned also it’s not easy to make those playoffs,” he said. “My first year, you go with the flow, you don’t really think too much. And the last four years showed me, no, it’s definitely not easy to win consistently in that league.”

Hischier emphasized the addition of Ondrej Palat, who signed a five-year, $30-million pact with the Devils as an unrestricted free agent this summer. Palat captured back-to-back Stanley Cup championships with the Lightning in 2020 and 2021 and is the franchise’s leader with 12 game-winning goals in the playoffs.

“We’re a young group and we’ve got to see what (Palat) does,” Hischier said. “He definitely can help us out a lot because if you can take things out from his experience, the best case is we’re going to be that Tampa team at some point.”

New Jersey has quite a bit of ground to make up, though. The Devils wound up seventh in the Metropolitan Division this past season with a record of 27-46-9 and finished 37 points outside of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Hischier pointed to consistency as the main factor in getting the Devils back into the playoffs.

“Understand that an 82-game season can’t always be perfect and it’s about when you lose two or three games, that you go back on a five-game winning streak or something like that,” he said. “Don’t slip out of the race.”

Hischier rebounded spectacularly from an injury-riddled 2020-21 campaign that saw him log 11 points in 21 games. He ranked second on the team with 39 assists and 60 points in 70 games in 2021-22.

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