Games versus divisional rivals are big, especially against the Rangers, and I would like to point out two examples of how a big divisional game can affect your season.
1) Early season last year against the Rangers (the second game), some of you may remember the Devils blowing an early lead and falling 3-2 to the Rangers. This was a tough early season loss, the Devils were 0-2, but after regrouping for two days, the Devils went on a mini-road trip (much like the one that is coming up) and won their first game of the year against Tampa with Zajac's goal in the last second and then a victory in the shootout.
After that Devils loss to the Rangers and an 0-2 start, the Devils went a remarkable 17-4-1 until the end of November.
During this stretch, the Devils took 35 out of a possible 44 points.
There was adversity after the loss, and the Devils certainly met it.
2) The next example also comes from last year against the Rangers. On January 12th, Marty and Lundqvist each had something like fifty saves a piece and the Devils won the game 1-0 in a shootout. After the game, the general consensus around the league was that the Devils could outreach the Caps for 1st in the conference.
However, after that big win, the Devils went 5-10-2 until the olympic break.
Out of a total of 34 points during this mediocre stretch, the Devils amassed a total of 12.
Through the first 8 games of this year, the Devils have taken 5 out of a possible 16.
12 divided by 34 = .35 of possible points taken.
5 divided by 16= .31 of possible points taken.
Nobody talks about these very similar slumps because the Devils were in the middle of the season and not the beginning of it.
Tonight all Devils fans have to believe that the game against the Rangers will be a turning point.