Eastern Conference Has Done New Jersey Devils Favors Early On

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 20: New Jersey Devils Marcus Johansson (90), Sami Vatanen (45), Blake Coleman (20) and Miles Wood (44) congratulate Damon Severson (28) after his goal during a game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New Jersey Devils on October 20, 2018 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by John McCreary/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 20: New Jersey Devils Marcus Johansson (90), Sami Vatanen (45), Blake Coleman (20) and Miles Wood (44) congratulate Damon Severson (28) after his goal during a game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New Jersey Devils on October 20, 2018 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by John McCreary/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Coming into the season, it seemed pretty clear the Eastern Conference would be a battle to the end to make the playoffs. The teams most thought would be fighting for those spots, have started the season very slow.

The start of the season hasn’t been too bad for the New Jersey Devils. Ignoring the order in which the Devils lost their games, going 4-2 in the first six games is something almost every Devils fan would sign up for. They lost two games to 2018 playoff teams, and beat the Stanley Cup Champions and the best player in the world along the way.

Even if Devils fans are mad, the rest of the Eastern Conference has done nothing to separate themselves from the pack. In fact, all of the teams the Devils were supposed to be competing with for a playoff spot find themselves on the outside looking in for the most part.

One of the teams that beat the Devils, the Philadelphia Flyers, are actually starting the season off poorly. They played nine games already, three more than the Devils, and only have eight points. They’ve gone 2-3 at Wells Fargo Center. It seems like Gritty was not the key to success the Flyers hoped.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have been incredibly inconsistent to start the season, playing .500 hockey. They have a -6 goal differential, third worst in the Eastern Conference. They are coming off two straight 4-1 losses, the latest coming at the hands of the Arizona Coyotes. Sergei Bobrovsky is having a rough start, with a .872 save percentage, but one should expect him to even out. Seth Jones also missed most of the first few weeks, so his return will be a welcomed sight.

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The Pittsburgh Penguins also starting off slow thanks to two grueling losses in overtime. They’ve only played seven games, after a big overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers, so their fall is a little too premature to predict.

The Carolina Hurricanes did start off scorching hot, but there’s more than meets the eye with them. They currently lead the Metropolitan Division with 11 points, but they took nine games to do it. That’s still on pace for 100 points, but the Devils are currently on a 109 point pace. The Canes beat the Minnesota Wild, Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Red Wings, all teams that had one win at the time of the game. They also beat the Rangers who are terrible. They need to start beating good teams, instead of being a product of their schedule.

The biggest disappointment to start the season has been the Florida Panthers. Some analysts picked this team as a lock for the playoffs this season, but it hasn’t worked out that way. The Panthers are struggling in every aspect of the game, outside of scoring. Since Roberto Luongo went down with an injury, they’ve been awful at keeping the puck out of the net. They currently allow 3.8 goals per game. Only three teams allow more. Their special teams are putrid, ranking 26th on the power play and dead last in penalty kill. The Panthers started last season 19-22-6, yet ended up one point out of the Devils spot. We must say it is still very early.

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The Devils are in great shape. They’ve played the least amount of games in the league, and again are on pace for 109 points. Will they get there? It’s doubtful, but with every other team ahead of them struggling in one way or another, there’s hope after two brutal losses.