Now after a two-game losing streak, the Devils have their backs against the wall once again. The middle of the Metropolitan Division is so close that a few losses can have you getting lost in the shuffle. Two wins can theoretically put you in second place, but two more losses can put you in last place. There are seven measly points between second place and last place. This division can shake out any way and most in the hockey world would not be surprised.
The way everything is shaping out, barring a collapse by a team in the Atlantic, the Metro will most likely only have three representatives. The Pittsburgh Penguins are doing their best to become uncatchable, but they aren’t quite there this early. That leaves two theoretical positions that the Devils can grab.
If the Devils are going to be one of the teams in those spots then they have to win the games against lesser division opponents and lesser opponents in general. That’s not saying the Carolina Hurricanes are a lesser team than the Devils as right now they have the same exact record, but they haven’t made the playoffs in four years. They have played better since the return of goaltender Cam Ward, but these next two games are must wins for the Devils. They are playing a home and home with them. Carolina is a hard place to play, but the Devils have played there in more hostile situations.
After that the Devils have the Buffalo Sabres, and they are the worst team in the NHL. You cannot afford to lose to teams you are better than — especially when that team has nothing to play for in November.
The Devils are in a position of strength right now, and the schedule is working out in their favor. They can really make a move in this division starting tonight through November 30. If the Devils do not end the month with some kind of theoretical playoff spot then they failed on this stretch of games.