If the Stanley Cup playoffs started today it would mark the shortest NHL season on record. Fear not, there are six months remaining on the regular season docket. Yet if the season did conclude the New Jersey Devils would qualify for a postseason spot.
New Jersey finished October with points in four consecutive contests and an overall ledger of 4-2-2-0 (10 points). As of this writing, the Devils are third in the Metropolitan Division. Concluding a four-game homestand, the New Jersey will look to carry that momentum into a November sun belt swing at Florida.
So how did the Devils reach this point? Let’s take a look at the good, bad and everything else surrounding the young season.
Comparison for Comparison’s Sake
Last season the Devils October record was 6-4-1. Point-wise the club is about where they were at last year but in a different fashion. This year New Jersey is 4-0-1 at home and a mere 0-2-1 away from Prudential Center. Conversely, the Devils registered a record of 2-3-1 on the home sheet and went 4-1-0 on the road. New Jersey’s 3-0-0 start was its best start to a home slate since the club won the Stanley Cup in 2002-03.
The Devils will attempt to improve their road record with an early November challenge at Florida, Tampa Bay, and Carolina.
“There’s talk on the street; it sounds so familiar. Great expectations, everybody’s watching you.”
The “New Kid in Town,” by the Eagles, may as well have been referring to Hall.
So far this kid is exceeding expectations in a Devils sweater. Hall leads all Devils’ skaters with five goals and seven points. Among those goals are three power play tallies and two game-winning markers. When I made my bold preseason predictions, I said Hall would pot 40 goals. I may have undersold him on that account.
It shocks me how people in some corners still ride this guy for not being Martin Brodeur or absolutely perfect. Does his new goalie mask not impress you? Starting seven of eight games, Schneider’s .941 save percentage and 1.86 goals-against average both rank in the top ten for goaltenders. The Marblehead, MA born goalie has kept the Devils in every game thus far, with all of their losses coming by only one goal.
Scoring consistently doesn’t always come easily for the Devils. However, the club does own a plus-two goal (18-16) goal differential. The Devils power play (23.1%) ranks twelfth. On the penalty kill the Devils stand seventh (86.2%).
Although it may not have been their most dominant victory, the Devils 2-1 overtime victory against the Minnesota Wild showed resilience and sparked the club. PA Parenteau knotted the game midway through the third. In the extra session Taylor Hall, on a nice give and go from Adam Henrique, netted the winner.
Yes, it’s a small sample size but as mentioned above, the Devils are 0-2-1 away from the Garden State.
New Jersey’s opening night loss came in overtime at Florida. At Tampa, the Devils blew an early 2-0 lead and lost 3-2. In Boston, the Devils were ahead 1-0 in the third but lost 2-1 when the Bruins scored with 1:15 remaining. Ahead 2-1 against Chicago in the third, New Jersey yielded the game-tying tally with 2:11 left, before falling 3-2 in overtime.
Through eight contests the Devils have netted two goals or less in six of them. The Devils have been in every game but if they netted three goals in each contest, they’d have at least three more victories.
Separating a great team from a good team, though the Devils were ahead for most of the game, they fell late in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Blackhawks. With an empty net, Marian Hossa tallied the equalizer in the third and Artem Anisimov posted the winner in the extra frame.
If October is any indication, November’s schedule will crush or bond the Devils. Ten of their 14 games are on the road, beginning with a three-game swing at Florida, Tampa Bay and Carolina. Additionally, New Jersey has a four-game western jaunt at Dallas, Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose.