Quinn Hughes may be the eldest Hughes brother but he has yet to beat his younger brother, Jack Hughes, on the ice.
The two brothers first faced each other in 2018 when Quinn was at the University of Michigan. Jack had the option of joining his brother at UofM that season but instead chose to stay with the US National Team Development Program over playing on the same team as Quinn.
“I just felt like the NTDP was the best spot for my development," said Jack at the time. "I love my teammates, my coaches, the resources and love being able to put on the USA jersey. I tell everyone no one trains as hard as us at the NTDP. We're working out in-season, skating four times a week, and playing games on top of that."
Many of those games are played against NCAA teams, which is how Quinn and Jack found themselves literally facing off against each other on October 12. Quinn took the opening faceoff against Jack — Quinn lost, of course, because he’s a defenceman and Jack is a centre.
It was foreshadowing. Jack assisted on the opening goal, then scored the 2-0 goal, and added another assist later in a 6-3 win for the NTDP.
The two brothers have met twice since, both in the NHL in the 2019-20 season, and Jack has come out on top both times. In their first meeting, Jack scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks.
In their second meeting, Quinn had the only Hughes point, assisting on a Brock Boeser power play goal, but it wasn’t enough: the New Jersey Devils took the 2-1 win.
Quinn has had enough.
I’m 0-and-3 against him and 0-and-2 in the NHL, so it’s kind of a problem,” said Quinn on Monday morning ahead of the Canucks’ game against the Devils. “Especially tonight, we need points so bad right now…
“It would be nice to hopefully be 1-and-3 after tonight.”
There’s a lot riding on this game. Not just brotherly pride as Quinn tries to flip the script on Jack but also the need to keep picking up points to have a chance at making the playoffs.
Beyond that, the two brothers have a side bet going. Quinn and Jack have bought a house together in Michigan and it needs something for the walls.
“We want to get a little painting we’ve been talking about for the house,” said Quinn. “I think the loser was going to pay for it. We’ll see what happens.”
Paintings can get pricey depending on the painting. Jack has the richer contract — $8 million to Quinn’s $7.85 million — but it doesn’t kick in until next season, though he did get a $2 million signing bonus. Not that they’re likely to buy a million-dollar painting, mind you.
Still, it adds a little spice to a game that is far more important for one team than the other. The Canucks still have hopes of making the playoffs, even if it will be an exceptionally difficult road to get there.
The Devils, on the other hand, don’t have those hopes at all. They’re well on their way to their fourth-straight season out of the playoffs, with an ugly 18-29-5 record. It will be their ninth time missing the playoffs in the last ten seasons.
It’s not Jack’s fault. He’s been excellent, putting up 15 goals and 36 points in 32 games, on pace for 29 goals and 70 points in 62 games this season.
“I know how good he is and how hard he works,” said Quinn. “We live together in the summer and I see the dedication he has to the game…He’s playing like a star in the league right now — he’s become one — and he’s just got to keep going. For us tonight, he’s going to be a real focal point.”
Scoring goals hasn’t been the issue for the Devils — they’re above average in goals per game. Their issue has been goaltending or a lack thereof. Their two goaltenders with the most starts, Mackenzie Blackwood and Jon Gillies, have save percentages under .900.
Nico Daws, who is likely to start against the Canucks, has been slightly better in 4 starts, but only slightly. He has a .906 save percentage.
The Canucks have been getting significantly better goaltending from Thatcher Demko, which has helped them stay in the playoff race despite scoring less than the Devils. Demko won’t be starting on Monday, however, after backstopping the Canucks to a win over the New York Rangers on Sunday night.
Instead, Halak will get the start. His save percentage plummeted to .899 thanks to a rough start against the New York Islanders earlier in February and he’ll be looking to bounce back.
Will Quinn finally be able to get a win over Jack? It doesn’t help that it’s the second night of back-to-backs and the Canucks are starting their backup goaltender, but the Canucks should be the better of the two teams.
Besides, Quinn doesn’t want to pay for the painting. Get your wallet out, Jack.