The New Jersey Devils inched closer to history with a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night. They have now won 13 straight games and, if they keep winning, will have the opportunity to break the NHL record in less than two weeks.
The 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins currently hold the record for the most consecutive games won in a regular season with 17. That team was coming off its second straight Stanley Cup and included the likes of Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Ron Francis. In the years since the Penguins went on that tear, only a couple of teams have come close to touching that record.
- The 2012-13 Penguins hit 15 wins before taking a loss
- The 2016-17 Columbus Blue Jackets got all the way to 16 consecutive wins before having its streak snapped.
Can this Devils squad do what those teams could not? To answer that question, let's look at what New Jersey has done so far throughout the life of this streak before we peek ahead to what is coming down the road.
The Devils began this lengthy winning streak on Oct. 25 with a win over the Detroit Red Wings, and they have been the most dominant team in the NHL since. New Jersey has beaten 10 different teams with a combined record of 83-79-20. Throughout the life of their current winning streak, the Devils have controlled 58.82% of the expected goals at five-on-five, per Natural Stat Trick.
That mark is the best in the NHL.
Of course, they don't blare horns and play songs for expected goals. When it comes to the actual goals that have been scored at five-on-five, the Devils have been even better. Since the start of their winning streak, New Jersey has scored 37 goals at five-on-five, which puts them at the top of the league in that category. At the other end, the Devils have given up just 13 five-on-five goals. That is tied for first with the Boston Bruins and Seattle Kraken.
When looking at individual players, one key to the success of this Devils team has been the development of their young stars.
- Jack Hughes has six goals and 18 points in his last 13 games.
- Jesper Bratt is tied for 11th in the NHL in points with 24.
- Nico Hischier has been a big-time play driver for the Devils, and he looks more like a No. 1 overall pick.
- After a down year in 2021-22, Dougie Hamilton (who is a few years older than the names above) is back to looking like a true No. 1 defenseman.
Getting those skaters to play up to their potential has been critical for the Devils, but make no mistake about it, the biggest factor in this winning streak is that they are finally getting reliable goaltending. Last season, the Devils had a team save percentage of 88.1%, which was 31st in the NHL. In this 13-game winning streak, the New Jersey goaltenders have combined for a save percentage of 95.2%, which is second in the league. The Devils have dealt with injuries in net, but if that overall performance can continue over the next few weeks, they can absolutely set a new record for consecutive games won.
The Devils' next five games come against five different teams. They have games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers and Nashville Predators. Those teams have a combined record of 52-53-10, which comes out to roughly the same winning percentage than that of the teams the Devils have already beaten.
Wednesday night's game against the Maple Leafs will be tough, and the Rangers will be highly motivated to end the streak, but New Jersey will be the better team in each of its next five contests by any measure. Still, knowing the NHL, it may be a team like the Sabres or Capitals that ends the Devils' dominant run.
Between a talented roster playing elite hockey and a somewhat favorable schedule, the Devils have what it takes to surpass the 1992-93 Penguins and make history. Even if they don't, they have proven that they have put the rest of the NHL on notice.