Carolina Hurricanes Put New Jersey Devils Right Back Into Metropolitan Race

New Jersey Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek (41) celebrates after defeating the New York Rangers at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek (41) celebrates after defeating the New York Rangers at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /
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The New Jersey Devils have been playing some of its worst hockey of the season. Prior to their game against the Rangers on Thursday night, the Devils were 2-4-2 in their past eight games. This is how the New York Rangers were able to catch up to the Devils. If the Hudson River Rivalry ended differently, the Rangers would be in sole possession of second place. Instead, they now sit four points back of the Devils with seven games remaining.

It’s nice to get the breathing room that comes with a win. The Devils defense stepped up in a big way. Now, something that seemed impossible is back on the table. The Devils can win the Metropolitan Division again. That’s because the Carolina Hurricanes have been just as bad as them, if not worse.

Things went from bad to worse on Thursday night for the Hurricanes. They were facing the Detroit Red Wings, which has nothing to play for anymore. The Wings are nine points out with eight games to play. It’s not exactly clinched, but Detroit is going nowhere from here. So, the Hurricanes had to think this was going to be an easy two points.

It looked like the Canes were getting an easy point, at least. They were tied in the waning seconds of the game. Then, tragedy struck.

With 3.2 seconds left in the game, the Hurricanes fell to the Red Wings 3-2. Now, the Canes have one point on the Devils for the Metropolitan lead. Carolina does have one game on the Devils, so a win there probably makes this a little too large a hill to climb. However, they are 4-5-1 in the last ten games. Without Andrei Svechnikov, this team seems different.

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Now, the Devils can grab the Metropolitan Division. They have some easy games coming up (Columbus, Chicago), and there are some options to win beyond those bottom feeders. The Devils would love to win the Metro and avoid the Rangers in the first round. While the New York Islanders are no easy task, it at least takes some of the pressure off.