NEWARK, N.J. — The past decade hasn't been overly kind to the New Jersey Devils.
Since advancing to and losing in the 2012 Stanley Cup Final to the Los Angeles Kings, the Devils have a total of one playoff appearance (2018) in which they won a single game.
On Friday, though, the Devils can join the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes as the third team to clinch a berth in the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs when they square off with the Sabres on Friday.
They'd also be the third team to reach the 100-point mark this season.
All New Jersey needs is a win against Buffalo in any fashion on Friday night. If it doesn't happen that night, it will eventually, and Locked on Devils host Trey Matthews believes this team has a shot at the Stanley Cup.
A big reason for that is the emergence of leading-scorer Jack Hughes as a bona fide superstar, according to Matthews.
"Once they make the playoffs, I think people are definitely going to be turning their heads at that kid at the Prudential Center and say 'Jack Hughes, he's the reason why the Devils are going to the playoffs," said Matthews on the Locked On Devils podcast. "He's the reason why they're getting all these goals. He's the reason why they have not gotten shut out this year."
Matthews adds a playoff berth says a lot about general manager Tom Fitzgerald, who took over that role in 2020 and recently pulled off a nice deal to acquire Timo Meiere from the San Jose Sharks, as well as head coach Lindy Ruff, who was widely booed by fans following a somewhat slow start this season.
It also validates the choice to make Nico Hischier captain, a huge contract handed to Dougie Hamilton a couple years ago, and faith in Dawson Mercer as a first-round pick in 2020 among other organization decisions.
Any way you slice it, it's a good time to be a Devils fan, and that's what matters most when it comes to clinching a playoff spot.