February went poorly to say the least. January wasn't all that good. After a two-week break, the New Jersey Devils have 22 games left to play in the 2009-10 season. It's fair to say that the Devils have tended slip a bit, if not slump outright, in the month of March in the last 4 seasons.
And they'll begin this month after the Olympic break with a road trip through San Jose (Tuesday night), Calgary (Friday), and Edmonton (next Sunday).
Yikes. Here's hoping that the slumping in January and February replaces a March swoon.
In comparison to last season's schedule, the Devils do play one extra home game in this month. Given their recent road form, that's not a bad thing. However, the quality of opponents will require the team to play far better than they had been in the 6 weeks up until the 2010 Winter Olympics. There are three back-to-back sets, including a brutal road-road set at Montreal and then at Philadelphia near the end of the month. Among the 15 games for this March, only three will come against opponents who are definitely not fighting for the playoffs: Edmonton (3/7), Toronto (3/18), and Columbus (3/23) - and February proven that doesn't mean they'll be easy games or automatic wins. Everything else are against playoff fighters (Philadelphia, Montreal, Calgary, Rangers twice, Boston twice), playoff long shots (Islanders, St. Louis), and plain-excellent teams (Pittsburgh twice, San Jose).
I'm not hoping for a better March; I'm expecting it. If the extra rest and the return of David Clarkson and (hopefully) eventual return of Paul Martin aren't the answers, then other parts of the team must start being held accountable.