At the beginning of the season, everything was changing in the city of Newark. Long-time leaders Scott Gomez and Brian Rafalski were leaving for bigger market teams, while fresh faces Dainius Zubrus and Vitali Vishnevski were learning their way around the Devils’ new venue, the Prudential Center.
After losing 12 of their first 19 games, it looked as though they would be a mediocre team this year.
Well don’t look now, but the New Jersey Devils are starting to heat up.
With hall of fame goaltender Martin Brodeur in net, the Devils have gone 10-0-1 in their last 11 games, the only loss coming in overtime on the road against the Rangers.
After signing a six-year extension with fellow Devils Patrik Elias and Paul Martin, third-year phenom Zach Parise has posted 33 points in the first 31 games.
Forwards Brian Gionta, Dainius Zubrus, and Jay Pandolfo have all played well and made significant contributions to a team that is trying to form a new identity this year.
When the season began in October, New Jersey’s first nine games were on the road—a stretch during which they went 3-5-1. However, they hung tough and have now risen to the two point lead over the Rangers in the Atlantic Division.
Now that we’ve reached the middle of December, New Jersey’s schedule becomes much more favorable, with 21 of their next 31 games at home.
New Jersey was 52-21-9 in the last two years at home, but that was at Continental Airlines Arena.
If they can adapt to their new surroundings and play like they did at their old home, this should prove to be a stretch of the season where they begin to distance themselves from the actual mediocre teams in the East.