The New Jersey Devils had an awful Florida road trip this weekend that saw them lose two crucial games, including one where they had a 3-1 lead. They went into the weekend on the cusp of a playoff spot, but came out of it four points behind the Philadelphia Flyers with two more games played, or five behind New York Rangers with equal games played.
The good news is the Devils have a very favorable schedule for the rest of the season. They only play five games against current playoff teams. Four of those games are at home where the Devils are 16-8-7 on the season. It is no secret that the team plays much better at home, so the fact that the hard games are at home is a blessing.
They play their next four games against playoff teams, then their next nine against teams outside of the playoff bubble. Five of their remaining games are against the Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres. Those bottom dwellers are playing for the end of the season.
The average of the points for the remaining teams is 71, the same number of points as the Devils currently have. They have as good a chance as any to make a final push at the playoffs. They spent all season digging themselves in a huge hole, but now have a perfect opportunity to right all the wrongs of their season.
The Flyers’ schedule is not so favorable. Their next 11 games are against playoff teams, including six games against teams that are leading their division. They have one of the hardest schedules in the league going down the stretch. Columbus only has six games left against non-playoff teams. It will be interesting to see how their young team will deal with such a tight playoff race. The Rangers are having issues of their own lately. They seem to have come back to the pack after looking like they had the No. 2 spot locked up.
The Devils need to go on a run. The team has only won three games in a row once this season. They need to do it at least twice down the stretch to have a chance. It won’t be easy, but it is definitely possible. The team has what it takes if they can put it all together.