Hall, Laine look to continue streaks as Devils host Jets
The Devils (34-25-8) feature the scorching Taylor Hall, who has at least one point in every game he’s played since the calendar flipped to 2018. After picking up a pair of assists in Tuesday’s 6-4 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, Hall has points in a league season-high 19 consecutive games since coming back from an injury, and has at least one point in 26 straight appearances.
“He’s been far and away MVP for us,” Devils center Brian Boyle said of Hall, who leads the team with a career-high 30 goals and 74 points. “He’s an MVP candidate. He should be at the top of the list, in my opinion. What he’s done is remarkable.”
Added Devils coach John Hynes, “He’s a guy that has superstar talent. Now you’re seeing all the things surrounding his talent. It’s his attitude. It’s his leadership. It’s his work ethic. It’s his consistency. It’s his buy-in.”
After carrying the struggling New Jersey offense recently, Hall received some help from his teammates on Tuesday as Travis Zajac scored twice, Boyle netted his first in 24 games and Patrick Maroon scored his first goal since being acquired at the trade deadline from the Edmonton Oilers.
“My job is to go to the net and get ugly goals,” Maroon explained after the Devils snapped a three-game losing streak with Tuesday’s victory.
Hynes’ take on his new forward was more effusive.
“He’s a menace below the tops of the circle,” Hynes said of Maroon.
The Jets (40-17-9) counter with a pair of forwards riding hot streaks — Patrik Laine, who is coming off a hat trick in Tuesday’s 3-0 win over the New York Rangers, has seven goals in his last three games and is second in the NHL with 38 goals, and Blake Wheeler, who has at least one assist in 11 of his last 12 games and was tied with Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek for the league lead with 57 assists.
While Laine was already amid a solid season, he has really taken off after veteran Paul Stastny arrived from St. Louis at the trade deadline. Since forming a line with Stastny and Nik Ehlers, Laine has three straight multiple-goal efforts while increasing his consecutive games point streak to nine, as well.
“It just looks like (Laine, Stastny and Ehlers) have such a good chemistry,” Wheeler told the team’s web site. “It just seems like once they got together, (Laine) has had a lot more time and space to get that shot off. Man, you get (Laine) open, it’s going to go in the net.”
Laine’s 38 goals trail Alex Ovechkin’s 40 for the league lead and he already surpassed the 36 he scored last year when he led all rookies in goal scoring as an 18-year-old.
“Things are going pretty well,” Laine told reporters following Tuesday’s victory, Winnipeg’s third straight. “The team is winning, and our line is playing pretty good hockey. So, I’ve got to be satisfied with that.”
For his part, Stastny has five points in his first four games with the Jets, who play the third game of a six-game road trip in Newark on Thursday.
Winnipeg could be without one of its key offensive talents against the Devils, though. Mark Scheifele, who has 51 points in 50 games, suffered an upper-body injury against the Rangers and missed the last half of the game. There was no update on his condition Wednesday.
Meanwhile New Jersey’s Pavel Zacha is ruled out of Thursday’s game against the Jets because of an undisclosed injury which kept him out of the third period of the win over Montreal. He could be replaced by Brian Gibbons, who has been sidelined since Jan. 20 with a broken thumb.
Thursday’s clash is the second and final meeting this season between the two teams. Back on Nov. 18 the Jets beat the Devils 5-2 in Winnipeg, making it five wins in their last six outings against New Jersey.