The New Jersey Devils, are historically a great NHL franchise, and in the last 10 years specifically have been one of the best. With stars like Ilya Kovalchuk, Patrik Elias, and Martin Brodeur, the Devils not only have great offense but great goaltending. The only change was a new coach. This season, after Kovy signed his famous contract with the Devils, I had the Devils 2nd in the East. You could read my NHL preview hear @ http://halloffamesportsblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/nhl-preview-for-2010-2011-season.html to see how well my predictions were. Definitely had some errors, but also some good calls.
So the Devils looked and sounded great going into this season. Then the first month of the season went by and everyone was shocked. The New Jersey Devils were way deep down in the standings, had myriad injuries, and their top star, Ilya Kovalchuk was playing awful.
The Devils took a even bigger hit when their goalie Martin Brodeur got injured, and now backup Johan Hedberg had to fill in, many thought the Devils would now be even worse.
Going into the New Year, the Devils only had nine wins but had 27 losses (two in overtime). Then they decided to make a big change, and fire their coach, and bring back Jacques Lemaire, the coach who won the Stanley Cup with them.
Since then the Devils have been amazing. Backup Hedberg is playing like an all-star, Elias and Kovalchuk are starting to wake up, and Jacques Lemaire is doing a great job bringing back this team. The Devils are 16-2-2 in their last 20 games, and are currently riding a eight game win streak.
In those 20 games, Hebderg has been playing out of his mind, giving up more then two goals only three times. Even when the Devils fail to score like last night, Hedberg comes through. They do not even need Brodeur right now.
Although Jacques Lemaire says he will not be back next season, he and the Devils are feeling very confident in making the playoffs, especially with teams injury plagued and slumping. If the Devils get in i think they can even upset a top seed.
For the first time since the first month of the season, the Devils have cut the points down to single digits from the eighth seed in the East. Still with about 25 games left in the NHL, anything can happen and don't be surprised if the Devils pull this off.