Jack Hughes and the New Jersey Devils squandered their home-ice advantage in a huge way this week, getting outscored 10-2 by the New York Rangers in their first two playoff games since 2018 and setting up a must-win Game 3 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
Hughes spoke on the frustration of the team not being able to recreate the magic that led to 52 wins in the 2022-23 regular season.
“Of course there’s frustration. We just got whacked for the second straight game, you know?” the superstar forward explained. “We’re not playing to our standard, and it’s biting us in the a** right now.”
That’s putting it lightly for a Devils team that has struggled to keep up with the pace of play and only scored two goals over 120 minutes of hockey in front of the disappointed home crowd at the Prudential Center in NJ.
“I don’t think we’re playing very well. We’re taking terrible penalties. Everyone’s gotta play better,” Hughes said.
The Devils are quickly learning that the regular season is nothing like the playoffs, especially against a New York team that advanced to the Eastern Conference Final in 2022 and knows what it takes to make it out of April.
“This is what we worked for all year,” Devils forward and NHL Trade Deadline acquisition Timo Meier explained. “We’re staying positive, we’re going to move on and obviously look and correct some things. But now it’s go time and go win the next game.”
Without a doubt, MSG will be rocking on Saturday night as the Rangers look to take a stranglehold on the series and send New Jersey quietly into the offseason.
The Devils will need their best player Jack Hughes to step up and the entire team to buckle down if they’re going to steal one in the Big Apple and get themselves back into the series on Saturday.
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