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The Month Ahead is Tough for New Jersey

On yesterday's call to Hockey Night on Long Island, I made mention that the rest of the month isn't easy for the Devils. Based on the current standings of each opponent, the Devils only face one team that isn't currently in deep playoff contention for the rest of this month. I've included their current conference position for each opponent.

Before you ask, Minnesota is only 3 points behind 8th place Dallas, so I consider them to be in "playoff contention."

This is good news if you subscribe to the theory that the Devils play down to their opponents. Based on the "strength of schedule" for the rest of March, we shouldn't see many more performances like we saw yesterday afternoon. The Devils definitely play stronger opponents for the rest of the month (Phoenix aside), with two of them for the first time this season (Calgary, Chicago). Based on this theory, the Devils should be fine.

I think they will be regardless because, hey, yesterday-aside, they're a very good hockey team. Even Detroit has horrible days, after all.

You know who won't care? Brent Sutter. Given what Gulitti reported about Sutters' remarks after the game, I don't think he'll allow any more performances like that regardless of the opponent. Hopefully the players will respond and will shape up for the rest of the month. Again, they will be playing against some very good hockey teams, and if a performance like yesterday results in a 7-3 loss to the Islanders, such performances will only lead to hideous losses.