The New Jersey Devils headed into 2019-20 with a fair amount of hype as a new-look team. Through three games, the additions of P.K. Subban, Jack Hughes, Nikita Gusev, and Wayne Simmonds have resulted in all-too-familiar results.
The Devils ended Wednesday with a 0-2-1 record as the (also new-looking) Philadelphia Flyers blanked them 4-0.
Speaking of fresh faces, Carter Hart indeed looked like a young phenom against the Devils, pitching the first shutout of his NHL career. His 25-save performance will be immortalized by this incredible save during a 5-on-3 penalty kill against 2017-18 Hart winner Taylor Hall:
Hart is the headliner, and with good reason, but let’s ponder a few other storylines from the Flyers’ 4-0 beating of the Devils.
Hughes hasn’t been huge
If you tuned into Wednesday’s game to get an idea of what the top pick of the 2019 NHL Draft is capable of, you might have ended up being disappointed. Honestly, you might have had a hard time even noticing him.
Hughes, 18, remains without a goal or an assist through his first three games. He was very quiet on Wednesday, failing to even register a shot on goal. While Hughes’ ice time was modest (14:34 overall), he was on the ice for 4:12 of power play time. Not great.
That said, there are certain metrics that argue Hughes’ work has been better than what initially meets the eye:
He’s far from the only quiet Devil to start
Taylor Hall ranked as one of the only Devils players who really stood out, firing five SOG. He’s generally been making an impact; while Hall hasn’t scored a goal yet, he has two assists in three games.
The Devils need more from other players, including P.K. Subban. So far, Subban only has an assist through his first three games with New Jersey. That has to be frustrating, especially as he sees Matt Duchene lighting it up with six assists already for Nashville.
Hot seat for John Hynes?
It’s probably too early to be too worried about the job security of the Devils’ head coach.
That said, the Devils have a ton on the line in 2019-20. Not only did they pay significant money to get better with Subban and Gusev, they also need to convince Hall to stick around, or they’d need to either trade Hall for something or watch him walk away for nothing in free agency.
With that in mind, Hynes needs to find answers — and fast. Maybe he should experiment with putting Hall and Hughes together? It might helpful for the Devils to see what Nico Hischier can do without Hall before they pay him, for one thing.
Flyers have a special night
Philly killed that 5-on-3 power play, which was virtually a full two minutes. They ended up blanking the Devils (New Jersey finished 0-for-5) while scoring two power-play goals on Wednesday. If the Flyers can rekindle their power play magic from the not-so-recent past, and get strong goaltending from Hart more often than not, then they can make the leap many expected to see last season.
Cory Schneider was actually having a pretty strong night, but the Flyers wouldn’t relent, and eventually overwhelmed the Devils goalie.
GM Chuck Fletcher’s experiment looks successful very early on, as Philly’s started the season at 2-0-0. The Devils have to envy Philly’s quick start, and they can’t afford to let this bumpy beginning to linger much longer.
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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.