It was well documented earlier this season that the New Jersey Devils were the last team to win a game. Part of the reason for that is because they spent five of their first seven games on a Western Canadian road trip. They once again head to the West Coast this week to take on the California NHL teams.
They will spend the next four days playing the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings. Those three teams are all playing very well this season. This will be the ultimate test on how good the Devils actually have been lately.
After starting the season 0-4-3, the Devils have sported a 7-4-2 record. They have been even better lately, going 4-1-1 over the last six games. Three of those wins came against divisional opponents, which will be the most important wins at the end of the season. Martin Brodeur and Jaromir Jagr have been the best of the Devils during their turnaround. The two resident 40-year-olds have been showing up the young kids. Brodeur will get the nod once again on Wednesday night.
The Ducks return home after a dreadful East Coast road trip in which they went 0-3-1. That includes a loss to the lowly Florida Panthers. The Ducks will be motivated to stop the bleeding in front of their home fans. In their four losses, they only scored six goals. This is coming from a team that is sixth in the league in goals per game. They are due to have a breakout scoring game. The Devils hope that they can delay that for at least one more day.
The Devils are starting to get some of their injured players back. Stephen Gionta is looking to suit up after an ankle injury. Patrik Elias has been back for two games since sitting out with a back injury. There are still a few injuries in the back end with Bryce Salvador, Anton Volchenkov and John Merrill all sitting out for this game. In fact, all three of them didn’t even make the trip to California.
Peter DeBoer knows what he is getting into this week with this trip. He knows the mistakes that were made earlier in the season. Everyone on the team is playing better. The scoring is coming from everywhere lately. Dainius Zubrus had a two-goal game last week. Michael Ryder has had some of the closest chances to put it in the net, only to watch opposing goalies make miraculous saves. His luck will turn and his scoring will explode. Obviously, Jagr’s scoring this season has been amazing.
This is an important trip for the Devils. If they can at least come out 2-1 in these games, then the rest of the season will look very good.