The New Jersey Devils are searching for their first point and the law of averages suggest it'll come on the road. The Devils will visit the Tampa Bay Lightning tomorrow, the Florida Panthers on Saturday night, and the Washington Capitals next Monday. According to this quote by Jacques Lemaire, as reported by Tom Gulitti at the new Fire & Ice, the team is looking forward to the road trip:
Lemaire believes that going on the road for the first time will be good for the team.
"We’ve been here for a long time," he said. "The only places we went we didn’t go far—Philly and the Islanders. Then, we played here. I think it’s the right time, the right moment to go on and hit the road, build up our confidence and break through."
Fair enough. Now, if you think any of these games will be easy, then you better get your mind right - they're not. I'm an ardent believer that there are no doormat teams in the NHL and you only need to look at some of the worst losses from last season as proof: 4-0 to Atlanta at the Rock, 4-0 to Florida in their house, 4-0 to the Islanders. All teams who didn't make the playoffs, and two that ended up with really poor records.
With respect to these three games, here's how I see it. While Florida got blanked by Chicago 4-0 on the road (Helsinki), they opened with a win over Chicago the night before, so they got that going for themselves. Plus, the Devils get to be the opponent for their home opener, an potentially important intangible for the Panthers. As for Washington, well, all I have to say is Alexander Ovechkin. He alone makes that game a challenge. I mean, he could really score 50 in 50 this season - he's got 5 goals (and 4 assists) already. I'll go into depth with Tampa Bay in the game preview.
So, let's ask a question: What do you expect from the Devils on this road trip? Since this is a results-oriented business, let's put it in terms of points. I personally would like the Devils to get at least half the possible points. I'm hoping they get some results on the road and build some confidence to help carry them through October.