With two months of the NHL season now finished, the Devils find themselves in a position very few could have predicted at the beginning of October. Yes, the upstart team from New Jersey leads their division over a quarter of the way into the season and the team continues to find ways to win and stay a nose ahead of the pack. The Devils are currently on pace to finish with 109 points, which would be their highest total since the 2004 lockout and the second most in franchise history. In the Eastern Conference, only the ascendant and dominant Tampa Bay Lightning have a higher points percentage than New Jersey. Things are going as well as could possibly be expected for the Devils.
And now, if you’ll indulge me, a rant for your Friday evening:
The Metropolitan Division is stupid and I hate it. The Devils, who again, are on pace for their best points total since before lockout that erased 2004-05 season — a stretch in which they have a lot of good seasons — are just one (1!) point ahead of the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Everyone in the division seemingly wins every night. The Devils are in first in the division but could have a bad week and be completely out of the playoffs. Scratch that, the Devils could have a bad next 28 hours and literally be jumped by the team currently sitting in 6th in the division. IT’S UNJUST, DAMN IT. I mean, just look at this bullcrap:
Literally the only team that did not have a point in their last outing was the one the Devils beat Tuesday night. Even the Flyers, ostensibly having a terrible season with a fanbase ready to fire everyone and burn down the Wells Fargo Center, have won three straight and are back to NHL .500 and on pace for an 82-point campaign. That’s the worst of the bunch right now. Everyone else is pretty much marching toward a 100-point season.
Meanwhile, over in refuse heap known as the Atlantic Division, the Devils would currently be six points clear of third. What are they even doing over there? If you inserted third-place Boston into the Metro, they’d be in seventh. By points percentage, FIVE teams in the Atlantic are behind or tied with the worst team in the Metro. The NHL’s nonsensical division layout of course is part of these circumstances, so as always, Gary Bettman is at least partially to blame. So, instead of comfortably enjoying a breakout season and dominating a division, we are worrying that the Devils will be left out of the playoffs and pick 15th overall.
It this sounds like I’m whining, well, it’s because I am. “Oh, the Devils just have to deal with the system like every other team,” you might say. To that I retort, “For the love of God, I just want to see some freaking playoff hockey.” I’m not above complaining about the circumstances currently conspiring to try to keep that from happening. In the meantime, hopefully the Devils win, uh, I guess every game forever, in order to stay out in front of the pack.
So, to sum up: the Metropolitan Division is the worst and I hate all of the other teams that reside within it’s borders. Go Devils.