Devils to face Rangers in High Spirits

It’s true.  Although you may never think it, the Devils are in a very good mood – and why shouldn’t they be?

The Devils are a little streaky at the moment – with eight wins in their last nine games.  But take a look at this breakdown:

  • October 10 – October 22 (6 games): 5-1-0
  • October 24 – November 14 (10 games): 2-6-2
  • November 15 – December 10 (9 games): 8-1-0

Yet with this not so bad outlook on the Devils season so far, the Devils still find themselves in seventh place in the conference – one point in front of Buffalo.  The Devils will see Buffalo twice, within the next six days.

If you look at winning percentages – which for those of you who only follow hockey are not familiar with – we basically want to look at the records of teams but include a comparison of the total games played.  Here’s the outcome of those results (their actual place in the conference is in parenthesis after their name):

  1. Boston Bruins  (1) 0.750
  2. Montréal Canadiens  (4) 0.661
  3. New York Rangers  (2) 0.645
  4. Philadelphia Flyers  (5) 0.643
  5. New Jersey Devils  (7) 0.640
  6. Pittsburgh Penguins  (6) 0.621
  7. Washington Capitals  (3) 0.603
  8. Buffalo Sabres  (8) 0.554
  9. Florida Panthers  (10) 0.518
  10. Carolina Hurricanes  (9) 0.517
  11. Ottawa Senators  (12) 0.481
  12. Toronto Maple Leafs  (11) 0.464
  13. Atlanta Thrashers  (13) 0.407
  14. New York Islanders  (14) 0.379
  15. Tampa Bay Lightning  (15) 0.379

 Interestingly enough, the Devils aren’t too far off from their actual placement in the standings.  But because of “conference rules” in which the first team of each division is seated first, second, and third, Washington who is first in their conference is actually seventh in the winning percentages.

One thing in the Devils favor – most of their injuries came during the slowest part of the season.  The Devils have the fewest games played than anyone else in the league!

Now they only have two players who remain out, and one is skating with the team once again and will most likely see action by next week.  That is, of course Andrew Greene, who’s been out with a broken hand.  (Now that, Bobby, is a better reason to be out than a broken pinkie!).

One last note for the Devils – they are have been beating teams ahead of them in the conference, which is very important if they want to move up.  In fact the last three games were against teams in front of the Devils: the Flyers, the Canadiens, and the Penguins.

Coming up in the Devils schedule includes the Rangers tonight (ahead of the Devils), two games against Buffalo (1 point away from the Devils), and a game against Toronto down in 11th in the conference).

One of the most important thing in the NHL, though, is the match-ups with divisional opponents.  Teams see their division rivals more than any other team, and having a leg up in this area really helps when it comes down to the final months of the season.

Here are the Devils current records against Divison rivals:

  1. NY Rangers: 0-2-0
  2. Pittsburgh: 2-1-0
  3. Philadelphia: 1-1-1
  4. NY Islanders: 2-0-0

In simple terms, the Devils are about halfway.  Out of a total of 20 possible points, the Devils have 11 witha  record of 5-4-1.  As evident, the Devils need to do better against the Rangers.In both games against the Rangers, the Devils played as a whole poorly.

Although I am hesitant to say this, the Devils are playing better now than they have the entire season – mostly because of their return of good players but also because their confidence is high.  Of course the Rangers have a way of turning that around…

The key here tonight: score goals and keep Rangers from planting themselves in front of the net.

Some additional notes: Mike Rupp will be back in the lineup as P.L. Leblond has been sent down to the minors.  The reasoning is not 100% clear, it appears as if this had been planned.  And although there is no official word, expect Bryce Salvador to play after being struck in the face with the puck late in the game against the Penguins.