New Jersey Devils: What Do They Need to Do to Win the Atlantic Division?
Sitting in third place in the Atlantic Division, and nine points behind the New York Rangers, the New Jersey Devils will attempt to give their rivals from across the Hudson, and others in the division a run for their money.
With nine Atlantic titles to their name, the Devils would love to be the first Atlantic Division team to reach double digits in division championships.
In fact, if they do win the division within the next year or so, they may be the only team to reach 10 because of the possibility of division realignments.
Nine points is a lot of ground to cover, and with 25 games remaining the Devils need to stay focused on certain parts of their game if they want to raise an Atlantic Division championship banner at the Rock.
Martin Brodeur Needs to Play Like His Old Self
This year has been a roller-coaster ride for Martin Brodeur.
He knows that his time is running out as an NHL goaltender, and he needs to make the best of his last year (or possibly two) with the Devils.
He has shown flashes of brilliance from time to time, but if the Devils want to push for the Atlantic Division, Brodeur will have no room for error.
Players Need to Get Healthy and Stay Healthy
This year, the Devils have had 11 different defensemen dress for at least one game, and only Bryce Salvador and Mark Fayne have played in all 57 games.
It has been a long time since the top six have been healthy.
Right now, Adam Larsson and Henrik Tallinder are both sidelined with injuries, but when they come back, and if no other defensemen drop to injury, then the Devils will arguably have one of the better defensive cores in the league.
Offensively, the Devils are missing both Ryan Carter and Travis Zajac.
When these two get back, it will add enormous amounts of depth to the Devils third and fourth lines.
The Devils Need to Win Important Games
Every Atlantic Division game from now until the playoffs will be absolutely huge. Especially games against the Rangers.
By beating any team in the division, the Devils can cause a two-point swing in the standings.
These games, and other games against playoff-contending teams, will determine what seed the Devils will get in April.
Players Need to Play Their Roles
If each player on the Devils can contribute in his role, the team will be in great shape.
The Devils need players like David Clarkson to keep up their gritty play, and players like Alexei Ponikarovsky and Steve Bernier to wear out opposing teams and maybe net a few goals.
Eric Boulton and Cam Janssen need to keep fighting to swing the momentum of games and send messages.
Defensemen like Anton Volchenkov and Bryce Salvador need to block shots and help out Brodeur in front of the net.
Adam Henrique and Dainius Zubrus need to keep dishing the puck to the team's scorers, and, of course, Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora (to name a few) need to keep scoring.
If these players, as well as the rest of the roster, play how they are expected to, then the team will challenge for the Atlantic Division crown.
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