Now, I'm sure you may be wondering when that game in hand on Pittsburgh is going to kick in for the Devils. The season is down to it's last few weeks. Well, it won't be this week, both teams play three games. It'll be in the following week, the week running from March 28 through April 3. The Devils will play four games and the Penguins will only play three. What game will that be? Well, it could very well be the first half of the back-to-back the Devils have at the end of that week: a home game against the Chicago Blackhawks. Already I can tell you that it won't be an easy two points.
This week, with four games this week, the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers use up their game in hand on the division. The only way the Flyers can catch New Jersey is if the Devils collapse in an atrocious manner and the Flyers get hot. With 11 games left in the season for both teams, it's very unlikely.
|Potential Points||Last Week||Conf. Position|
This week is an important one for the Rangers. Their first game of the week - and arguably their one game in hand - is today against Boston on national television. I'm sure some of you may be sick of seeing Blueshirts on NBC, but it's a vital game for them if they really want to make the playoffs. The Rangers faithful won't be just hoping their team wins but that the Flyers get the job done against Atlanta. The Thrashers have won their last three and basically thrown a wrench into the Rangers' fading postseason hopes.
There are a few intra-division matchups this week, all of them the end of rivalries this week. The Devils and Rangers will play their final game of the season between each other. The Islanders and Rangers will also end their season series this week. (Aside: Wouldn't be just wonderful if the Rangers dropped both their rivalry games to guarantee that they miss the postseason? Sometimes, I just appreciate schadenfreude in sport.) Lastly, the Battle of Pennsylvania will end the weeks for Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in a matinee.
|PIT||@ DET||@ WSH||vs. PHI|
|NJ||vs. CBJ||vs. NYR||@ MON|
|PHI||vs. ATL||@ OTT||vs. MIN||@ PIT|
|NYR||@ BOS||vs. NYI||@ NJ||@ TOR|
|NYI||@ NYR||vs. CGY||@ CBJ|
The Devils, on paper, have the easier schedule than Pittsburgh if only for not facing the Washington Capitals like Pittsburgh does this week. However, that means little on the ice. The Devils are two points behind the Penguins with a game in hand and the same number of wins as them. If the Devils can tie the Penguins or even get ahead of them slightly, it would be a very successful week. A sweep of this week alone would be a huge success. The Devils picked up 5 out of a possible 8 last week, the first time in a while they got more than half the points in a week. Now is the time to take it to that proverbial next level.