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Devils Lindy Ruff Sees Spark In Timo Meier: ‘He’s Coming’

After suffering two set-backs this season due to injuries, Devils head coach Lindy Ruff explained Monday night he sees the Timo Meier we’ve all been waiting for.



New Jersey Devils

The Timo Meier New Jersey Devils fans have all been waiting for is right around the corner, if he’s not already here.

During Monday night’s 6-5 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, Meier had one of his best games of the 2023-24 season thus far.

It might have been easy to lose sight of Meier’s excellent performance. Tyler Toffoli’s hat-trick, including the game-winning goal in overtime, was an easy distraction. As was Jesper Bratt’s 10-shot performance that doesn’t include the multiple posts he hit in 3-on-3 play that had fans on the edge of their seat.

However, after sifting through all the layers of Monday night’s tilt with Vegas, one of the most encouraging and important takeaways from the victory was the dominant presence of Meier. Even head coach Lindy Ruff couldn’t deny just how dominant Meier was against the defending Stanley Cup Champions.

“That’s exactly what I thought,” Ruff responded to New Jersey Hockey Now about Meier’s dominance. “He skated as free as I’ve seen him skate. He’s coming. He is coming. He’s battled through two sets of injuries. Now, skating is the one most important thing.”

The injuries Ruff is referring to are the lower and mid-body injuries the Devils’ highest-paid forward suffered throughout the season thus far.

It seemed like every time Meier would start to get things going on the ice earlier this year, he was shut down with yet another injury that severed his momentum. Back in November, Meier was in the midst of a three-game goal streak before a lower-body injury sidelined him for two and a half weeks. Then after going scoreless in nine games following his return, Meier scored four goals in his last five games before suffering a “mid-body” injury.

The best-case scenario, despite multiple injuries, was that they weren’t recurring injuries. Each injury was its own. As a result, Meier’s approaching two months removed from the lower-body injury, and his skating looks the best it has all season.

That was especially evident on Monday with Meier playing alongside Bratt and Nico Hischier.

Meier collected just one assist on five shots in the victory. However, that doesn’t paint the full picture.

The Swiss power forward skated, in Lindy’s words, as “freely” as he has all season, controlled the puck well on the end of his stick, won puck battles, finished checks, and created scoring chances all night. As far as the on-ice analytics go, Meier ranked third on the Devils with a 73.53 CF%, fifth with a 68.86 xGF%, and a dominant, positive 13-7 scoring differential, according to Natural Stat Trick. It was truly a dominant effort.

The timing of this couldn’t be better. If Meier is truly turning the corner and becoming the player the Devils’ traded for, it will certainly provide a big boost to a team that’s hampered by injuries. Jack Hughes’ return is still unknown, and the Devils need someone that Ruff can rely on to put on his back.

What was most impressive about Meier’s performance Monday night was who he did it against. Yes, Vegas is indeed dealing with plenty of injuries themselves. However, Golden Knights’ Bruce Cassidy is still able to deploy the likes of Alex Pietrangelo and Alec Martinez. They’re not only the defending champions, but certainly believed to have the potential to be repeat champions by the end of the 2024 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Golden Knights aren’t just defensive on the blue line either. Vegas’ top line can not only score, but it’s one of the better two-way lines in the NHL. Meier and co. were matched up against them all night, yet found a way to get on the board.

“They were getting the tough assignment,” Ruff reflected. “They were getting the (Mark) Stone trio there and that’s a good line. So we knew that we were gonna have to probably give up some, but we were gonna have to score some.”

The hope now is that Meier’s health persists. The 27-year-old isn’t just a power forward. He has plus skating ability and when he’s healthy, he uses his size and speed to his advantage to dominate the puck. The scoring will come as a result. Monday night was an encouraging start in the right direction. Looking healthy on his feet, the Meier we have all been waiting for very well could finally be here.

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