The New Jersey Devils won 13 straight games. That equals the franchise record set in 2001. That year, this impressive Devils team made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. This year, the Devils look like one of the best teams in the league. Only the Boston Bruins have a better record than the Devils.
Despite her success, Lindy Ruff wasn’t afraid to change the cast. The defenders don’t change, but the forwards basically change every night. The changes are subtle. The BMW line almost always stays together. The top three lines are constantly changing. That happened in the middle of Monday night’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. Dawson Mercer started the night on the third row with Jesper Boqvist and Yegor Sharangovich but he finished the night alongside Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt.
Fabian Zetterlund dropped to the third row but still had an assist. Meanwhile, Mercer had three points, including one of the easiest goals of his life.
It was clear almost from the second he joined the line that Dawson Mercer would fit in well alongside Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt. His persistent play helps Hischier and Bratt gain possession. His efforts also help on the defensive side of the puck, which also sets his current linemates apart.
Mercer finished the night with a goal and an assist, only his second multi-point night of the season. Although Mercer wasn’t as good offensively as he was last season, he contributed in other ways. In high-risk individual opportunities, he ranks sixth on the team. His line was decent at preventing the other team from scoring. Now he can prove his worth on the top line.
The Devils took everything the Oilers had from them. Mercer definitely helped with that. He was on the ice for four high risk chances at 5v5. Only Dougie Hamilton wanted more. Ruff rewarded Mercer for his good play.
Mercer should be in the top six for the foreseeable future. He deserves great teammates, whether in the Hischier or Jack Hughes line. In the end he loses himself in the third line. Mercer has 119 5v5 minutes without Hischier or Hughes. He has 53% offensive chances. When it comes to high-risk opportunities, he has 62% of those high-risk opportunities on the ice. With Hughes or Hischier, he has about 101 minutes with one or the other. You have 70% of the chances with high danger.
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Mercer gives the Devils exactly what they give him. That’s why it makes sense to keep Mercer at the helm with Hischier.