Readers from the last season will recall that every Sunday, there would be a snapshot of the Atlantic Division. It served as a short recap of the recent week of regular season games of all five teams in the division, a summary of the upcoming schedule of games for each team, and, of course, a look at the standings. It served as a good way to keep track of the Devils' successes and failures with respect to the division.
I plan on doing it again for the 2010-11 season. However, since the season starts in the second half of this week, it's pointless to start it now. Therefore, it'll begin next Sunday. Instead, let's review what the first month of the season holds for New Jersey.
Unfortunately, it's certainly not an easy month on paper. I say it's unfortunate since a poor start can undercut a team later on in the season. Recall that the Devils won the division last season by only two points. The Devils did well last October, and their success early in the season helped offset the struggles they endured later. It may be a bit of a cliche, but the games a team drops in October can and will come back and haunt them in March and April. While it is tempting to not get worked up over a poor start, it would be in the team's best interest to start off strong. That leads me back to the schedule itself.
The Devils will play 12 games in October, and only 5 of those games will be at the Rock.
Four of those five home games are against teams that made the playoffs last season, so there are no doormat opponents here. One is an intra-division game against the other top team in the Atlantic, Pittsburgh. Four of them are even involved in back-to-back sets, as indicated in the list. The Devils will have four in this first month; 4 out of the 20 the Devils are scheduled to have this season. They literally hit the Devils right away in the 2010-11 season; their first back-to-back set are their first two games of season. And it's a home-and-away set. Here are the away games:
- October 9 at Washington Capitals (Away opener; Back-to-back #1)
- October 13 at Buffalo Sabres
- October 21 at Montreal Canadiens
- October 24 at New York Rangers (Back-to-back #3)
- October 27 at San Jose Sharks
- October 29 at Anaheim Ducks (Back-to-back #4)
- October 30 at Los Angeles Kings (Back-to-back #4)
The away games are also laden with teams who made the playoffs last season; and one of the two opponents who didn't make the playoffs just happens to be Our Hated Rivals. The Devils at least get a good 4-day rest in between the home game against Boston and the away game in Montreal. They'll need it since the schedule afterwards calls for a home-and-away back-to-back set before the Devils go to the West Coast to start a five-game road trip. Which, of course, includes a back-to-back set just two days after playing San Jose to end the month.
Again, October isn't at all an easy month for New Jersey.
I'd like to hear what you think about the Devils' schedule for the first month. How well do you think the Devils should do? How well do you think the Devils will do? Please leave your responses and other thoughts about the schedule in the comments. Thanks for reading.