While Jacques Lemaire and his Devils are set on taking things one game at a time and focusing on their own business and no one else, I, for one, am not quite that virtuous. Now to present the week's slate of games which all Devils fans (whether they admit it or not) should share a vested interest in. At the very least, it helps pass the time between Devils games.
Now your Cliff notes on who to root for in the remaining games of the week (thru Saturday). I realize I'm not presenting any breakthrough theories here, but I just kinda wanted to sum up the action and who we're rooting for.
Thrashers at Sabres: One of those worst-case scenario games for the Devils; two teams the Devils must pass playing each other. At the very least, you do not want this game tied at the end of regulation. Both are tied in the standings with 60 points (4 in front of the Devils), but the Sabres have two games in hand, so root for the Thrashers.
Panthers at Senators: Ottawa is dead and buried at this point so this one is pretty obvious. Both teams have been ice cold of late, so the Sens probably have a decent chance, especially if Craig Anderson puts up a similar performance for them as he did in his debut. Rooting for: The wooden box containing the '10-'11 Senators.
Leafs at Canadiens: The Leafs have been decent of late, save for a goalless performance against the Ottawa Firesalers. The Habs, despite a bit of a downturn, are still squarely in the playoff picture at this point, so barring a complete collapse, they are out of the picture, so it's gotta be the Canadiens. Last time the two played two weeks ago, Montreal dominated with a 3-0 win, so hopefully this is a repeat. Rooting for: Canadiens.
Penguins at Hurricanes: I'm pretty sure this one is obvious. We need the Pens, who have been very average over the last month, to step it up against the Canes and pull out a win in regulation. The Canes haven't exactly been setting the world on fire of late, but have somehow built up a 5 point cushion for 8th since no one directly behind them seems very interested in winning either. Rooting for: Penguins.
Rangers at Capitals: Short of the Devils completing the miracle comeback, nothing would make me happier than the Rags falling out of the playoffs. Caps seem to be recovering from a bit of a swoon they had a week or so ago. No brainer: Capitals.
Senators at Sabres: It appears that outside of Sens fans, no one will be rooting harder for them this week than the Devils. Tough team to rely on. The Sabres were making a push for a little while, but have had some trouble of late, losing their last three. They will be trying to right the ship this week against Atlanta and Ottawa, and we will be rooting against them. Rooting for: Senators.
Panthers at Thrashers: Both teams are flagging pretty badly, and if things fall right over the next couple days, a Panthers loss could lead to the Devils leapfrogging them in the standings with a win. Regardless of the good feelings of jumping another spot (it could be moot anyway with a FLA win or NJ loss), when in doubt, take the points (ATL is three ahead of FLA at the moment). Rooting for: Florida.
Red Wings at Sabres: For the Sabres: second half of a back to back (3 in 4 days) with Detroit coming to town? Ouch. Obviously at this point, we're rooting for any Western Conference team in these games against other playoff hopefuls. Rooting for: Wings.
Hurricanes at Canadiens: Again, we obviously want the Canes to lose every game possible, given they are currently the threshold for getting into the playoffs. The middling Habs are struggling to keep pace with the Bruins for the Northeast Division and - despite a nice win over Vancouver last night - haven't been very good of late, but then again, neither have the Canes. Rooting for: Montreal.
Penguins at Maple Leafs: The Leafs have been doing the best of late out of any of the teams the Devils are chasing and hopefully can degrade into the same tailspin as the others at some point (fingers crossed!). I have just received word from the crack team of hockey experts at ESPN that one of the centers for the Penguins, Sidney Crosby (never heard of him), is injured. Hopefully the others can pick up the slack and down the Leafs. Rooting for: Penguins.
Again, I know scoreboard watching is shortsighted and all that really matters for now is that the Devils keep winning, but I just find it to be part of the fun. If people like this, I can keep trying to post these until the season ends, or the Devils render the whole thing moot with a losing streak. Enjoy the Wednesday action.