ovember 2009 can be easily described as excellent, as the New Jersey Devils put together a 9-2-1 record for the month. Now, a very busy month lies ahead for the Devils. They'll play 3 more games than they did in November and 1 more game than they did last December. In every week except for the week of Christmas, the Devils will have at least 3 games to play, including a back-to-back set of games. In fact, the Devils will play in more back-to-backs in this month than any other this season. The Devils do get the benefit of the breakdown of home and away games, getting 10 games at the Rock.
Nevertheless, it was a busy month last season and it's another one this season.
In terms of the Atlantic Division, the Devils have three inter-division games, two against Pittsburgh (who is ahead of them in the standings) and one against Philadelphia (who is not, for now). The Devils will see Vancouver and Detroit in this first week for the only time this season. The Devils will play Montreal (in NJ) and Chicago (on the road) for the first time this month; everyone else is familiar with New Jersey this season. Opportunities for revenge are rife with games at Buffalo, both home and away against Atlanta, and a home game with Philadelphia - four games total against teams who have soundly defeated the Devils earlier this season.
So what should be the goal, outside of the obvious (winning games)? Looking at past December records of recent seasons, the Devils should look to aim fairly high. The month has been kind to them with the only exception being the 2005-06 season.
I think the range of 7-9 wins would be more than acceptable and entirely possible with the slate of games up ahead. Should the Devils start getting healthier - Rob Niedermayer and Jay Pandolfo could be ready as soon as tomorrow, Johnny Oduya isn't there yet according to Tom Gulitti's report today - then the possibility just grows. I'm not saying the Devils need/should/will streak through December like they did in November. It would be nice, sure. But to be realistic, the Devils should come into 2010 with a solid December record based on recent history and the fact that they have 10 home games to benefit their schedule.