On February 22 of last year Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils sat in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. First-year head coach Pete DeBoer's success was a nice story, and the Devils seemed ready to return to the playoffs after a one-year sabbatical which featured a failed experiment with John MacLean as head coach.
As nice as the regular season was going for New Jersey, some hockey heads did not consider the Devils a threat to win the cup. They, like other Devils' teams of the late-2000s, would come up short in the playoffs.
The critics were wrong, however, as the Devils pieced together a run that lasted until Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.
On February 22, 2013 they are in a position that is not so different from the year before. A strong start to the year has come as a surprise to some. New Jersey doesn't seem to be in the same conversation as the Penguins and the Blackhawks are as true contenders to the crown.
What's to say things are shaping up similarly to last postseason, with a well-built Devils team using their depth to get hot at the right time? Here are a few reasons why they are a threat to be reckoned with.