The Devils finished their afternoon game today by defeating the Florida Panthers 3-2. Goals were scored by Palmieri(8) Hall(2) and Coleman(3). The Devils controlled most of the game scoring wise until the final 5 minutes where Florida got their two goals late. A game where New Jersey started slow in the first and by taking too many penalties had a happy ending with them leaving the Rock with two points.
Now here comes the daunting road schedule in November. The Devils play their next 7 games on the road starting Tuesday in Tampa Bay.
Devils fans have good memories of last seasons late road stretch in March that saw them go 4-2 in those six games in a fight for their first playoff spot in 5 seasons. Although this road stretch is coming much earlier than last years, the importance is still very high. The playoffs are not won in October and November, but they are lost. If they start their road trip off poorly and cannot perform like they do at home then this season could be in trouble early. However I have full confidence in this young group that is eager to show the league that their last season was no fluke. Road games are when a team must show their true identity especially during late game situations. The road is always tough no matter who you are facing but playing good structured disciplined hockey is what this team has shown it can do on the road.
Looking at the upcoming seven game stretch some easier games do stand out. The Red Wings, Islanders, and Senators are teams the Devils should and need to beat. Yes Ottawa and New York have been playing good hockey to start the season, but New Jersey is hands down more talented on all ends of the ice. Look for the Devils to take advantage in these games and set the tone early. If they can play a clean game and limit their penalty minutes, this team can have a successful road trip to start of November. Special teams always plays a crucial part in road games and if power play opportunities are limited then the Devils must cash in on as many as they can get.
Its early in the season but like we saw with Florida last year, if you start off slow to the season a late season winning streak wont be enough to sneak you into the postseason. The Devils held them off all throughout March particularly due to their 9-3 start to the season. If the Devils can make this a good road trip then pencil this team down as a possibility to return to the coveted postseason for the chase at Lord Stanley.