It's a brand new calender year and it's the beginning of what will be a difficult month for New Jersey. They will play 14 games and 9 of them will be on the road. Over the next 7 days, the Devils will get two home games and two of the three teams they will play are far from being world-beaters. With Atlantic Division as it stands, the points will start becoming more important. Especially with the Devils' advantage in games played eroding.
One note about these: Pittsburgh plays tonight in Boston, so it is entirely possible that the Pens pull within 1 of the Devils. However, given how the Penguins lost 5-2 to Boston on Tuesday in Pittsburgh, a repeat of the results could be in the cards. There's a reason Boston is 28-5-4, of course. Anyway, here's how it looks for the Atlantic over the next 7 days:
|Team||Games This Week (H, A)||Potential Points||Last 5 Games|
Fortunately for the Devils, as they haven't been on fire, the rest of the division hasn't been super great either. Though, it is nice to see the Islanders get some wins before end of the 2008. Unfortunately, the Devils don't play any more games than anyone else so they will need to succeed where their rivals fail to continue rising up the division. Given everyone's current form, I don't expect a rise to second place for New Jersey. On Monday, Pittsburgh goes to MSG so those two teams will cancel each other out in terms of point, so that could be helpful or harmful depending on how the Devils do and how Pittsburgh performs.
The Devils have Montreal tomorrow, Ottawa on Sunday, and then a trip to Carolina. The Flyers continue the second half of a three game road trip through Anaheim and LA on back-to-back nights and Washington (who is having a great season!) on Tuesday. Philly should beat LA, but who knows about the other two games. The Rangers visit DC on Saturday and then come home to take on Pittsburgh and Montreal. None of those will be easy for the Rangers, but they have the advantage of being at home for two of them. While Pittsburgh may not win tonight against Boston and going to MSG will be tough; they are at home to Florida and Atlanta in this timespan - those should be wins for them. As for the Islanders, well, they visit Phoenix, San Jose, and Edmonton. It would be nice if they got some points out of those games, but it's doubtful. I don't anticipate any of these three teams sweeping this week, nor do I expect the Devils to do so either.
As it stands, the Devils should remain in third and within striking distance of the Rangers and Philly by this time next Wednesday, with Pittsburgh dangerously close behind. Of course, I've been wrong before, so take anything I predict with a grain of salt - as you all should with all predictions by anyone. Unless it's Clubber Lang, he's probably 100% right about there being pain.