The New Jersey Devils’ difficult start to the season can be attributed to two things before anything else. One was the injuries. Both goalies have been absent at times, and it looks like Jonathan Bernier will never return this season. Jack Hughes was absent for over a month. More than half of the team missed time due to injuries or COVID protocols. Then there are the players who haven’t lived up to the hype. Yegor Sharangovich is one of the players who featured it.
He had a hard time starting the season. It probably didn’t help that Hughes was knocked out of the roster in all four periods of the season. He’s been amazingly brilliant all season, and it’s been the worst possible way. Pavel Zacha is streaky, but he always contributes something every night. Sharangovich goes from superstar to invisible week after week.
Four times this season, Sharangovich has scored points in consecutive games. He has another point. As in, he only scored in one more game on top of those back-to-back games with points. He started on a nine-game scoring streak, a five-game scoring streak and a four-game scoring streak. Those streaks can’t happen for the rest of the season, and it looks like they shouldn’t be now that Sharangovich is back with Jack Hughes.
According to Natural Stat Trick, Sharangovich played about 239 minutes without Jack Hughes and 99 minutes with Jack Hughes. Without Jack Hughes, Sharangovich has been on the ice for 8 goals for the Devils and 14 goals against the Devils. With Hughes, he is on the ice for 5 goals and only 2 goals conceded. All of these statistics are evenly matched.
The high danger odds tell an even clearer story. When Sharagovich is on the ice with Hughes, they have a 60% chance of high danger. When Sharangovich is without Hughes, it’s only 51%.
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It’s not even the fact that a superstar player lifts his counterpart. Hughes is also much better with Sharangovich on the ice. Hughes’ Corsi, high danger odds and goal stats are all higher with Sharangovich. They are the first line when they are together. When not together, Nico Hischier’s line or Dawson Mercer’s line must take over as the team’s top line.
One of the most telling statistics is that Hughes shoots 5% without Sharangovich and 10% with him. The percentage of shot has random qualities, but such a disparity shows that there is some truth to these numbers. Sharangovich helps Hughes to score better.
Who knows who else should be on the line with Hughes right now. They had Jesper Bratt playing on the line Wednesday against the Buffalo Sabers, and they were magical together. It was by far the best line on the ice for either team in all metrics possible. They scored two evenly matched goals and conceded none. Clearly Lindy Ruff should keep Hughes and Sharangovich together for as long as possible.