New Jersey Devils Could Use First-Round Home Advantage
The New Jersey Devils goal differential is now at a plus-6 in 17 home games and a minus-10 in 16 road games during the 2013 NHL season. This could prove especially critical if Monday night’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators ends up proving the difference between the Devils landing the No. 4 seed or No. 5 seed — obviously the difference between having home advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
“A tough, but good point,” Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said, via NHL.com. “We worked really hard; we deserved a lot better. They won the skills competition against us. Two games in a row. [Ottawa] is well coached. They’re not a team that’s going to take a lot of gambles. Their [defense] isn’t trying to activate all the time – when [Erik] Karlsson does it, he’s great. But these guys aren’t trying to take his place. They’re doing their job.”
Brodeur calls it “a good point” and surely every point is intrinsically good, but a defeat of the Sens (42 points) would have comprised a three-point swing that brought the Devils (37 points) a mere game behind Ottawa for second in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference standings. However, the Devils failed to capitalize on their 14th-consecutive game out shooting their opponent, even though they forced Sens goalie Ben Bishop (32 saves) to swat away far more shots than Brodeur (12 saves) Monday night.
There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence for why home advantage means little in the NHL playoffs, but the Devils more than most teams have shown this could be an actual advantage. With two shootout losses against the Senators already, New Jersey can use every edge it can get if Ottawa meets them in the first round.