April has arrived, and the New Jersey Devils are seventh in the NHL East Division with a 13-16-6 record for 32 points. They’ve played one game in April so far, a 2-1 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals at home after a road trip, and are coming off a few losses and a shutout to the Boston Bruins. The team went 6-8-3 in March with a decent effort from all but an especially good one from one line, so let’s talk about the three stars of that month from New Jersey.
#3: Yegor Sharangovich
This 22-year-old forward continues to impress in his first season in the NHL. This season, he has seven goals and five assists for 12 points, but just in March, he scored four goals and notched four assists as well. Two of his four goals were on back-to-back nights against the New York Islanders and Buffalo Sabres.
On the 14th, he netted a goal in the second period to tie the game 2-2, and two nights later, on the 16th, he started the scoring for both teams in the first period. He has shown that getting shots on net only leads to more goals, shooting any chance he can. He led the team in shots on the 13th at the Islanders with five and is currently fifth on the team in shots this season with 68. Sharangovich has been consistent with those shots, not just this month but the majority of the season, and it has paid off for both him and his linemates, who continue to work well together.
#2: Janne Kuokkanen
Kuokkanen is another young player that has only been improving this season with the Devils. He has been getting better each game in his first full NHL season and proving his spot with the team. He raked up 10 points in March, four goals and six assists, and all of his goals were on consecutive nights from March 9-14.
The 9th was a two-point night for him in Washington with a goal and assist. Three of those four scored in the month were against the Islanders, and his goal on the 14th was a backhanded power play goal to tie the game at one. He’s also been pretty consistent with his shots; he had five on the 4th against the New York Rangers and three on the 16th. His hard work is always visible as he fights for the puck and tries to get chances. Similar to his linemate, Sharangovich, Kuokkanen is a part of the young group of Devils that have been consistently contributing and delivering this season, something apparent in March as well as the other months this season.
#1: Travis Zajac
He has really had a great season, especially when he’s on a line with Sharangovich and Kuokkanen. Considering how many points they brought in this month (30), it has been a huge help to the Devils’ record. Zajac himself added up three goals, two of which were game-winners, and nine assists this month, to bring his points to 15 for the year. Those game-winning goals came on the 18th and 23rd against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers, in which he also picked up an assist on the 23rd.
On March 9, he had three assists against Washington on Kuokkanen, Sharangovich and Severson’s goals, another showing of that electric line head coach Lindy Ruff has been using. Adding to the assists tally for March, Zajac had five assists in three games straight from March 9-13. Although he might not have as many shots as his linemates, or other Devils like Miles Wood, each game, he makes each one count, and it works well considering how many points he had this month. Zajac also being able to integrate with these younger players brings not only a bunch of veteran experience to help develop their game, but it has been so beneficial this month.
Monitoring This Combination in April and Beyond
Zajac, Kuokkanen and Sharangovich have consistently proved to be a good line to put and keep together in March, something that will hopefully continue into future ones. It is a perfect blend of speed, experience, accuracy and offensive awareness to make for an unstoppable line, so it is only right that they earned the three stars for the Devils in March.
Sam is currently Managing Editor, and used to be Sports Editor, of The Montclarion, Montclair State University’s student-run multimedia newspaper. She’ll be earning her Sports Media and Journalism degree from there in Spring 2021. A hockey fan since she was a young girl, she covers the Montclair State men’s team as well as the Metropolitan Riveters and New Jersey Devils for The Hockey Writers.