The November Ahead for the NJ Devils at a Glance

Last month, the New Jersey Devils achieved an 8-4 record - their best record in October in recent memory.  November started off with some big news, as Patrik Elias has practiced for the first time (per Gulitti and Chere) bringing much joy as seen in the comments in those posts as well as the one here by Steve.    According to Chere, this weekend might - and that's a big might - be his season debut.   Personally, I think he should take his time to get back to form.  After all, the Devils have posted a winning record without him so far and he alone isn't going to turn around an awful 1-4-0 home record.

In my opinion, that really should be the big goal this month.  The Devils will play 12 games this month and half of those are at home.  Two this week, two next week, a road trip on the third week, and two in the month's final week.  The opponents range from the potent (Washington - twice) to those in the bottom half of the league (Islanders twice, Anaheim, and Ottawa).   Based on recent seasons, the Devils have been either just above average in November or simply great in the month.  In order for the Devils to keep pace with those records, they'll have to get some wins at the Rock.  Expecting the Devils to sweep all the road games this month is simply too much to ask.   Especially since the road include games at Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.  I think 14 points would be a more realistic expectation as it would be in line with some recent seasons, though.

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Based on the schedule comparison I did when the team schedules were announced, that the Devils were so hot on the road in October is a big blessing in disguise.  Between this season and last, the Devils got 3 more games this season and two of those were on the road.   The Devils actually get one fewer total game this month than they did last year (one more road game, two fewer home games), so the pressure to do well on the road in comparison is much less.  Of course, if the Devils can't figure out how to get points at the Rock, then that's a moot point.

With respect to the fatigue, the month is fairly kind to the Devils.  OK, the Devils have three back-to-back sets where they have one at home and another away; but the away games in those games are relatively close: Ottawa, Pittsburgh, and Boston (which the Devils did last week).  New Jersey still has Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday off throughout the month with one sole exception, an away game at Philadelphia.  The longest the Devils have to travel is to Dallas on November 21, but that'll be at the end of a week-long road trip (Philadelphia, 2 days off, Nashville, 1 day off, Dallas), and the team will have 3 days to recover afterward.  It's not until next month where game congestion really becomes an issue.

Historically, the Devils will either do just above average or achieve big success.  The key is that they got at least half of all available points in the month.  I think the Devils should be able to achieve that same goal as they'll only get stronger when Patrik Elias gets back into the lineup.

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