Giving the Devils Their Due
The Devils entered the weekend with little reason for optimism. Ten games into the season, they had only one win and had averaged just two goals per game. And with Cory Schneider hurt and Martin Brodeur struggling badly, a team that had been able to fall back on excellent goaltending for almost two decades was suddenly faced with a glaring weakness in the crease.
To make matters worse, New Jersey couldn’t even throw in the towel and go into tank mode for a high first-round pick in the 2014 draft, because it won’t have one — the Devils lost that choice as part of their punishment for the 2010 Ilya Kovalchuk contract fiasco. The league’s decision mandated that New Jersey could forfeit any first-round pick from the last four years and, for reasons that nobody seems to fully understand, chose not to do so when they owned the 29th-overall pick in 2012. After watching the Devils struggle through the season’s first few weeks, it was hard not to wonder if that decision could wind up costing them the first-overall pick in next year’s draft.
Well, not so fast. For one night, at least, the Devils had something to celebrate, going into Boston and beating the Bruins with an impressive third-period comeback. Trailing 3-2 with just over a minute to play, the Devils stunned the Bruins with a pair of quick goals. Both came on the power play, courtesy of a Torey Krug high stick and our old friend the worst rule in hockey. That snapped a five-game Bruins win streak and bumped Boston back down to a tie for third in the Atlantic.
And as far as those hopeless Devils don’t look now, but thanks to the general ineptitude of the Metropolitan Division, they’re still very much in the playoff hunt. While they’ve won only two games on the year, their four losses in overtime and shootouts leads the league, and those four loser points give them a total of eight. That’s still pretty bad, but it’s enough to move them ahead of the Flyers and Rangers and to within just three points of a playoff spot.