The New Jersey Devils are off to a hot start this year, opening the season with a three-game winning streak and competing in all their games. Strong goaltending from Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg, combined with defensive depth and timely scoring, have led the New Jersey Devils to their early successes.
In a shortened season, the importance of every point is magnified and a lack of losses in regulation could go a long way towards securing a playoff spot in one of the toughest divisions in hockey. The Devils are in a vulnerable position because the shortened season is characterized by more play within the conference, and the strength of the Atlantic means the Devils will have a more difficult schedule than most teams in the NHL this year. The Atlantic Division carries the least amount of travel, but it also means playing the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers, and Philadelphia Flyers. Early season wins give the New Jersey Devils room as the season becomes more grueling.
The hot start also means that the New Jersey Devils have successfully carried the momentum of last year’s Stanley Cup run through the offseason. After losing ex-captain Zach Parise to free agency, the New Jersey Devils entered 2013 with a plethora of questions. Leadership issues are an obvious concern when your one-year captain signs elsewhere, but Bryce Salvador and Ilya Kovalchuk have the Devils playing well.
Many questioned whether the tandem of Brodeur and Hedberg could work for one more year, but goaltending has been a tremendous strength so far. The “Stanley Cup hangover” was avoided, the Devils seem in position to contend in the Atlantic Division despite losing their top-line winger and captain, and the team has rebounded from a crushing defeat in the Stanley Cup.
Things are looking up for the Devils, and most of my preseason concerns have been addressed. While I still think Adam Larsson should be getting ice time amongst the hoard of mediocre NHL defensemen on the New Jersey Devils roster, Pete DeBoer seems to have his team playing well with winning line combinations and a deep roster of above-average talent.
The New Jersey Devils’ hot start is exactly that – a fantastic start to the year. Still, it’s reassuring to see them answer so many questions this early in the season. The New Jersey Devils have a definite chance to contend for a playoff spot this year, and Devils fans would be hard pressed to ask for anything more to begin the year.