The New Jersey Devils Upcoming Games Are Must Wins


The New Jersey Devils are coming off two dominant wins this week over the Philadelphia Flyers (5-2) and the Buffalo Sabres (4-1), but I am not ready to say this is a different team. The reason I say that is because like the Devils this season, both the Flyers (25th) and Sabres (28th) currently sit at the bottom of the league standings and are considered “weaker” teams.

Not to take anything away from the Devils because these last two games were very good, but those are games you are expected to win. This is why I’ve used caution when evaluating how the team has changed since the firing of Peter Deboer.

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I do believe the Devils are better now than they were before, but some of that may be due to the presence of GM Lou Lamoriello who is seeing and evaluating all the players up close which could be putting an added (and needed) sense of urgency in the locker room. We haven’t seen the team play this well since the first two weeks of the season, but between those first two weeks and now there has been a lot of damage done.

The Devils Schedule

The Devils have played 42 games this season, tying them with the Tampa Bay Lightening for most games played so far this season. Having only accumulated 37 points has put the Devils in a deep hole as they sit 8th in the Eastern Conference Wild Card, 8 points back of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the last Wild Card spot. To make matters even worse, every team in the Wild Card and in contention for the two spots have ahead of the Devils at least two games in hand. These two games or more mean that the Devils have their work cut out for them.

I do realize that almost half the season has yet to be played, but with the Devils having played more games than most teams in the league and already 8 points out of a playoff spot, every point is going to be crucial from here on out. Needless to say, the New Jersey Devils upcoming games could have major implications on their playoff fate.

The Next Two Games

So why are the next two games so critical? The answer is simple, they play the Boston Bruins (Away) and New York Islanders (Home) before leaving for a tough three game west coast road-trip next week. This west coast road-trip will be one of their toughest stretches of the season as they will face-off against the Kings, Ducks, and Sharks who are all currently in a playoff spot and have a combined record of 67-35-20.

With the Bruins under-performing so far this season and also fighting for a playoff spot, the Devils have to come out strong and be ready to play. In addition to Boston being ahead of the Devils in the standings (one of the 6 teams they will have to pass in order to be in a Wild Card spot), they also have two games in hand over New Jersey , so the stakes will be high in this road game.

The Islanders will come into the Rock on Friday night having lost to Edmonton (the worst team in the NHL) earlier this week and returning from their own west coast road-trip. Losers of their last two games, this will be the 5th of a 7 game road-trip in a row for New York so having home ice could be key for the Devils in this one. It will be very important for the Devils to head out on their west coast road-trip on a good note with a strong performance against a team that is tied for the Metropolitan Division lead.