So far, this season has been a very strong one for the New Jersey Devils. An excellent winning streak early on in the season, a lull not long after, and a strong January record heading into the All Star Break. It seems that whenever the team compiles a couple of losses, the haters and those who are waiting for the other shoe to drop quickly come out and make their voices heard, but this team has been able to silence that crowd for most of the season. As a result, they are in at the Break with the 4th best record in the entire NHL, and a better record than the entire Western Conference. That is nothing to scoff at.
The question I had, was how does this team’s record at the break compare to the team’s dynasty years of the early 2000s? Were they also strong early teams, riding early winning streaks to comfortable playoff berths? Or did they need to ride late heat to make it in? Let’s see where this team ranks in terms of their record with some of the better Devils teams from the past from the early 2000s. Info on old standings comes from ShrpSports.
So I obviously did not go back to 1995 to include that Cup winning team because that was a condensed 48 game schedule for the entire season, so it really wouldn’t compare. And I also included the 2001-02 season which really was a dud season in between some real contenders, but it seemed weird to leave it out, like I was trying to erase history. They had a poor season in the middle of some great ones, it happens.
Overall, what we can see is that the current Devils really are comparable to those teams, at least at this point in the season. All of those teams, except that 01-02 season, were either leading the Atlantic Division or were 2nd, and the current Devils are 2nd as well, so it works. And the total points are very similar. The 1999-2000 Cup winning team was on a different level, reaching 75 points by the All Star Break, which is basically where Carolina is right now. The other contenders, however, including the Cup winning team in 2002-03, were all in the mid-to-upper 60s range of points. It fits perfectly with where the current team is.
Of course, the comparison is not exact. For one, the League no longer allows for tie games, so the points are divided slightly differently nowadays. And also, the date of the All Star Game slightly changed from year to year, although it was always in the first week of February. However, it just means that the total number of games played by each team was within a range of four games. The most was 53 by the 99-00, 01-02, and 03-04 teams, while the current Devils and the 02-03 Devils were on the other end, having played only 49 games. This actually makes the current team look a little better. The 99-00 iteration had 75 points, yes, but they had played 4 more games than this group has. If the team this year goes 3-1 over their next four games, they’d be at 74 points at the same point as that team, only one point behind a team that was arguably the most dominant in Devils history.
Now, the one thing we definitively know about a couple of those dynasty teams, the ‘00 team and the ‘03 team to be exact, was that they had the clutch gene. They were able to win in big moments and traverse the tough terrain that is the NHL playoffs. We have no idea what to expect from this current team, as they basically have 0 playoff experience. This year will most likely be the first year where this main corps gets to experience the playoffs, feel the atmosphere, and learn how to play under that pressure. How they will respond is anyone’s guess at this point.
But what this comparison here today shows us is that at least up to the All Star Break, this current Devils team is on par with those dynasty Devils teams from the turn of the century in terms of points gained. They have a shot to be something special, and that is a pretty cool thing.