New Jersey Devils: What Is Best-Case Scenario For This Season

Cory Schneider - New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Cory Schneider - New Jersey Devils (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New Jersey Devils have been absolutely on fire for the past few weeks. With playoffs still a very long shot, what should fans expect from the Devils down the stretch?

The New Jersey Devils have been playing spoiler for the past few weeks, taking wins from the likes of the New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals. To record wins over these teams (including a bunch of bad ones) in a five-week span is very impressive. If this season didn’t start quite as disastrously as it did, we could be in the midst of a possible playoff push to finish the season.

Yet, Devils play-by-play man Steve Cangialosi still made the comment at the end of the Devils win over the Rangers on Saturday night that there was still a chance, although slim. Well, it’s probably more slim than it even looks on paper.

The beginning of the season still counts, and it’s going to make it absolutely impossible for the Devils to contend at all. The team is currently 11 points out of the final Wild Card position with just 14 games to go. To make the playoffs, the Devils would essentially need to go 12-1-1 (would still only get them 93 points). Then, the Islanders would need to go 6-8-1 at best, the Blue Jackets would have to go 6-6-1, then the Rangers and Panthers would need to go 8-6-0 or worse. It’s asking quite a lot, especially from a team that hasn’t won more than three in a row all season.

Hockey Reference’s Playoff Probabilities Report has the Devils having zero chance at making the postseason. Literally zero. There’s too much that needs to happen. So, now that we know the playoffs shouldn’t be a goal, what should the goal be for the Devils?

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The Devils have eight home games left this season, and they should absolutely try to win them all. The crowd hasn’t been into this team since the beginning of the season, and it’s very important to end the season with the fans happy.

They only have one real rivalry game coming up against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 28th. The Devils always have to try to win those games. They ended up splitting the season series with the New York Rangers. If they win the next game versus the Flyers, they would split that season series as well. As bad as this season has gone, at least we can hang our hat on that.

Honestly, the best case scenario is already happening. At least some of it. The biggest things we needed from the end of the season were Mackenzie Blackwood to show he’s a starting goalie, P.K. Subban to prove he wasn’t a sunk cost and Jack Hughes to show growth. As the great Meatloaf once said, two out of three ain’t bad. Subban has been quite good as of late, and actually helped make Mirco Mueller look like an above average defender. Blackwood looks like one of the best goalies in the league over the past two months. Hughes needs some work, but we have a whole offseason to get that done.

Now, it’s time to root for certain things to happen. Maybe we want to finally see Michael McLeod‘s first NHL goal. Let’s root for Kyle Palmieri to get to 30 goals and Nikita Gusev to get to 50 points. Maybe getting a couple more wins for Cory Schneider would help, too. Let’s root for milestones and just have a good time with how the Devils have been playing.