We are now just days away from dropping the puck on the 2013 season. It’s been a long road to get here but I think we are all ready. Due to the lockout, we get a short 48 game season and it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that long losing streaks or giving away crucial points will be a huge problem this season. Let’s also remember that we play only Eastern Conference opponents this year so points are going to be CRITICAL. At times, the Devils gave away points last season, blowing leads in the 3rd period but in the end, that didn’t matter much as they made the playoffs and then made their run. This year it could be the difference between making the playoffs and making early tee times, more so than any other year.
The Devils have six (6) games on the schedule for the month of January and some of those games come against opponents that could easily be mentioned for having a shot at the cup.
Game 1 - @ The Islanders – Hey look, the Islanders have come a long way in recent years. I think they made some decent acquisitions in the off-season and the play of Nabakov last season really did them well. I also think they are still the bottom dwellers of the Atlantic Division. I’m not saying we should sweep the Islanders this season, we never seem to do that and they always play us well but I do think we are the better team.
Game 2 – Home against The Flyers – The Flyers scared me last season, especially with their dismantling of the Penguins in Round 1 but then, let’s be honest, we completely outplayed them in round 2. I’m sure the suspension he received last year is still on the mind of Claude Giroux and I would expect that he has something to prove against the Devils. Tough opponent to get for your home opener.
Game 3 – Capitals at the Devils – Welcome back Adam Oates, that didn’t take long to run into you. The Caps are a team that underachieved last year. When you have a natural goal scorer like Ovechkin and guys like Backstrom and Laich and Green and a decent guy in between the pipes, making the playoffs on the final night of the regular season is pathetic. Oates, while many didn’t like him here, is a good coach. Look for them to be dangerous offensively and why do I get the feeling the Devils forecheck that worked so well in the playoffs will find its way to Washington this season?
Game 4 – At Montreal – I kind of thought when Marty tested the waters last July, Montreal might be the place he ended up. Thank god that didn’t happen!! Marty loves playing in Montreal and I don’t think the Habs made enough moves in the offseason to improve on the team they have.
Game 5 – At Boston – Even without Thomas, the Bruins are going to steam roll over the rest of their Division and probably be in a spot to be a favorite to win another cup. Always a tough battle in Boston.
Game 6 – Islanders at the Devils – See, very quickly we have 4 points in the Atlantic Division on the table. Hopefully we will make it 2-0 against Atlantic Division teams going into February.
My biggest worries going into this season are:
- Can we close out teams and not give away points. Even if you end up winning in OT/shootout, let’s not hand teams a point.
- We didn’t win the cup but we still have a bullseye on our backs as the Eastern Conference Champ, especially when it comes to play those Rangers.
- It’s a short season but worse than that, it’s a short camp to get ready for the short season. Are guys going to be in game shape come Saturday? Can we stay healthy?
The key seems to be 52-56 points in order to make the playoffs this season. Let’s get it started right by finishing off the Islanders in their building in 3 periods.
LET’S GO DEVILS!!