In their past possible 10 points, they have gotten 9. That’s right, not a single regulation loss in the past five games. Watching this team play you would really start to question how is team is sitting in the cellar of the NHL standings. But sitting dead last they have beaten the Tampa Bay Lightning twice, the New York Islanders once and the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight with a 2-0 shutout.
You can’t call them the worst team in hockey. After the first 41 games, you would scratch your head and think that, but when you look at the roster and the talent the Devils had, and the history of the guys on and behind the bench, it was really quite confusing. And the past two weeks have proven that these guys do have the talent to be in the NHL. They do have what it takes to be competitive. And they do have what it takes to win.
Tonight was perhaps the first night in a few weeks that I have sat and watched the entire game from start to finish. And they played well. I will hint that towards the end of the third period the Penguins did get a leg up on the Devils, but it was times like that in the past where net minder Martin Brodeur would come up big to keep the Devils in it, and that’s exactly what we saw tonight.
But everything from passing to forechecking, even the defense was running well. And the Devils weren’t relying on just the top lines to accomplish this either; all four lines we rolling. Perhaps the most telling sign that this team is just playing different is the transition from defense to offense. They were moving quick, especially in the opening stages of the game, which really was the credit of the two goals they scored early on.
This had the hint of an old style Devils game – score a few early on, and lock down the opposition. Low scoring, high energy, and highly frustrating to your opponents.
I liked what I saw tonight, as I am sure many Devils fans are. The trick is that they must continue to fight like this. They are playing very well, especially for a team that sits dead last in the standings. If they have any hope of digging themselves out of the hole they currently sit in (I’m not saying to squeak in to the playoffs, but sure it’s a possibility…) they must string together stretches like this where they get 9 out of a possible 10 points.
As it stands right now, the Devils are even for the month of January. 4 wins, 4 losses, and 1 overtime loss. They’re playing strong, they playing like they can win, and they’re doing it. But their upcoming games aren’t going to be easy on the team. Their next opponent is the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, then the Florida Panthers on Sunday (the only team the Devils lost to in their last 5 games – but an OT loss so they still got a point), and lastly the Detroit Red Wings – who have a rather long list of injuries at the moment.
At the moment, however, they Devils can feel proud knowing they they are no longer looking for moral victories; now they’re getting victories that come with points.