Hischier, Hamilton, Bernier & More

There’s been a lot going on in the world of the New Jersey Devils lately when it comes to injuries. The team announced Several updates were made yesterday for players dealing with ailments, including Dougie Hamilton and Nico Hischier. Let’s dive into the latest Devils news and rumors as they look to bounce back from a 5-3 loss to the Bruins with a home-and-home against the Columbus Blue Jackets to close out the week out. 

Hischier, Hamilton Injured

Although the Devils won a 4-3 overtime victory against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, Hamilton and Hischier were both injured. Both missed yesterday’s game against the Bruins, but Hischier is expected to miss much less time than Hamilton. 

Let’s start with Hamilton, who took a puck to the face against the Capitals. Hamilton left the game in the first quarter and didn’t return. After his return to New Jersey, the team announced He suffered a fractured jaw. and would undergo surgery today to repair it. They placed him on injured reserved retroactive to Jan. 2, and he’ll likely miss a fair bit of time, though a firm timeline won’t be out until after his surgery. 

Dougie Hamilton is a New Jersey Devils defenceman (Photo: Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers

Hamilton’s departure is a huge blow to the Devils. He’s been their top offensive defenseman this season with 20 points in 30 games and was largely playing top-pair minutes. Given how well Jonas Siegenthaler, Damon Severson are playing, they may be able survive without him. But losing their best offensive defenseman certainly won’t help. 

As for Hischier, there was concern when the team announced he wouldn’t play against the Bruins yesterday. However, Devils play-by–play announcer Steve Cangialosi informed Hischier that he should be back with the team today and could be available to face the Blue Jackets tomorrow. Hischier had seven points in his previous five games before missing yesterday’s contest. Getting him back that quickly would be a significant lift for a team that’s already dealing with plenty of injuries and some COVID issues. 

Bernier Out for Season

Yesterday, the Devils also announced that their goaltender was being replaced. Jonathan Bernier would regret itAfter undergoing surgery to his right hip, he missed the remainder of the season. He had been in 10 games with a.902 save rate (SV%) but had not played since December 3 against the Winnipeg Jets. 

Bernier started strong, but he was unable to play much of the season due to the same hip issue. Surgery was the only way to fix it. That’s another tough hand dealt to the Devils, who have had goalie problems not just this season but for many years. It’s even more crucial considering Mackenzie Blackwood has struggled mightily in 2021-22, as he has an .895 SV%, which is well below league average. 

Related: Devils Get Solid Leadership From Nico Hischier

Blackwood said in his post-game press conference last night that he’s still dealing with pain in his heel from offseason surgery. That’s likely affecting his play, but they still need him to be better. He doesn’t need to be an elite goalie posting a .920 SV% this season, but something around league average would be a big help. The Devils are not getting that right now, and they’re going to need it with Bernier done for 2021-22. Jon Gillies must start a game to give Blackwood rest and to help him get better. 

Sharangovich, Zacha Enter COVID Protocols

Two of their top-nine forwards have been indicted by the Devils as if they needed more bad news. Pavel Zacha, Yegor Sharangovich joined COVID protocols. Amanda Stein, Devils reporter said that both players are symptomatic. Assuming both players test negative, they’d be allowed to return to the Devils in five days under the league’s new COVID protocols

Zacha has five points in his last 19 games, so the few days off could serve him well, especially since he’s asymptomatic. The hope is he can find a groove once he returns to the lineup, even if it’s just in a middle-six role, because they need him to score more than he has lately. 

Sharangovich was enjoying his best hockey of this season playing on the line with Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt. In his first game with Hughes or Bratt, he scored four goals and had 12 shots on goal in three games. In Sharangovich’s previous 10 games, he had three points and 14 shots on goal. There’s something to be said about playing on a line with the team’s two best players in Hughes and Bratt. It clearly sparked him, and it’d be a surprise if the team didn’t return to that unit once Sharangovich clears protocols. 

The Devils may be shorthanded right now, but they’re still playing competitive hockey. They could have very much won last night’s game against the Bruins, so there’s no reason to get discouraged. Hischier might be back tomorrow. If not, it could be this weekend. They could be back next week if Zacha and Sharangovich are negative after five days. The Blue Jackets are currently in a slump, with a record of 3-6-1 in the last 10 games. So there’s an opportunity for the Devils to get back in the win column right away tomorrow night.