There is no way to discount the recent slide Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils have been on recently. They have gone 2-4-1 in the past two weeks with a minus nine goal differential during the downswing. A few injuries—the most recent of which has been the aging back of 40-year-old Martin Brodeur—seem to be affecting the chemistry.
Despite this, New Jersey sits just two points off the Atlantic Division leading Penguins, a club they beat twice in two days before this recent funk. The division crown, and a guaranteed top three seed, is certainly in play.
Home ice advantage doesn't matter as much in the NHL as it might other sports (see the Devils last postseason), but it is big to have a hypothetical game seven in front of the home fans. Plus, you get those cool t-shirts and hats.
Here are a few reasons why you can expect the Devils to pass the Penguins and hold off the rest of their rivals for the Atlantic Division.