The New Jersey Devils have so far had what could be best described as an up and down 2022-23 season. After a couple of early season losses that brought about “Fire Lindy” chants, the team heated up to a point where they won 13 straight games, inspiring a “Sorry Lindy” chant. As the team entered December, more things began to go wrong, however, as despite outplaying opponents on many nights, the team couldn’t seem to buy a win. The “Fire Lindy” chants thankfully did not return, although the unrest among the fans did.
As December closed out, the Devils found themselves back in the midst of the Metropolitan race, rather than outpacing all of the other teams as they had been. The Carolina Hurricanes surged to the top of the division, and the Devils found themselves playing second fiddle while now having to worry about four other teams coming up on their tail. December was about to end on a sour note after two straight losses to the NHL leading Boston Bruins, but the Devils managed to salvage the last game of the 2022 calendar year by beating the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Since that game, things have begun to turn around for the Devils; they managed to push the Hurricanes to OT and take a point while Carolina was in the midst of a 16 game (extended to 17 by this contest) point streak. They would then trounce the Red Wings 5-1 before losing on the back half of a back to back 5-3 to the Blues. Just went things looked grim against Our Hated Rivals, Damon Severson delivered the Devils an OT victory after a comeback from being down 3-1. The Devils were outplayed by Carolina again two nights ago, yet it was the Devils who found some puck luck for a 5-3 come from behind (again) victory.
3-1-1 so far in 2023 and 4-1-1 in their last six, things appear as though they may be turning around for the Devils. The team is getting healthier, with Ondrej Palat already back and John Marino and Nathan Bastian recently having skated with the team. Having both important and role players return pushes others into more comfortable spots in the lineup (looking at you Erik Haula) and keeps the Devils as a hard team to play against. Once the team is back to full strength, they should be able to get more of the match-ups that they want, as well as to better stack up against the other successful teams in the league this season.
So maybe December is a month best worth forgetting about. The Devils may not have another success like November during this season, but as long as they play at the pace of their most recent five games, they should be fine. Winning 6-7 points our of every 10 would put them on pace for 48-56 over the remainder of the season, and even the low end of that estimate puts them well over 100 points for the season. Considering that being over 100 is typically good in terms of being playoff bound, that would allow the Devils to call this season a success.
The Devils are still not a perfect team. even after the November they had, December did reveal some of the flaws. They will continue to grow, continue to improve and continue to just be better overall. For now though, it appears the team is back on track. So let’s leave December in 2022, and look forward to the Devils hopefully continuing the strong play.
What are your thoughts on the Devils most recent stretch of play? Has it alleviated any concerns you had that were brought on by December, or are you still worried about the team going forward this season? Are your worries based more in how competitive the Metropolitan division is? Leave any and all comments below and thanks as always for reading!