With their first back to back win since November 11-14, 2014, the New Jersey Devils are starting to make a turnaround after the firing of coach Peter DeBoer. With Scott Stevens, Adam Oates and New Jersey Devils’ President/General Manager Lou Lamoriello behind the bench, positive things are starting to happen.
With Jaromir Jagr’s hat trick on January 3rd in the 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers and his countryman Patrik Elias’s goal and two assists in the January 6th 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres, history is being made. Jagr became the oldest NHL player to score a hat trick. Elias’s second assist of the game gave him a career 399 goals and 601 assists for 1,000 points. Not bad for a guy that just got back into the lineup after having the mumps.
Elias has spent his entire career with the Devils.
“I think Patrik from day one, when he arrived as an 18-year old and went to the minors,” Lamoriello said of Elias. “He played extremely well and had patience. I think his career, his success, his statistics, his Cups, they all speak for themselves. He’s been an integral part of all of that.
“In this day and age, it’s uncommon for a lot of reasons: free agency and age. Patrik has been a very loyal Devil. Drafted. He was a free agent (several free agents). He decided to stay. He’s just great to have in the organization. Without question, he’ll retire (a Devil). In my opinion, he’s a Hall of Famer.”
Among the first text messages he received to congratulate him on his 1,000th point was from former Devils legend Martin Brodeur. Elias told beat reporters that he had received over a hundred messages congratulating him on his milestone, Brodeur was the first.
Other milestones in the last few weeks include Dainius Zubrus appearing in his 1,200th career game on December 31, 2014, and Scott Gomez appeared in his 1,000th career game on December 27, 2014.
The Devils play one more home game this week before heading to California to face all three clubs in the state. The NHL All-Stars in Columbus, Ohio follows their road trip. They’ll face the Toronto Maple Leafs at home on January 28th.
Tuesday night’s Sabres game officially marked the start of the last half of the season for the Devils. Currently, they are 10 points out of the last playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division and eight points away from the current wild card spot.
The Devils’ plan at the beginning of the season was to win as many games as possible from the very start so that they would not find themselves in this predicament where their backs were up against the wall. They didn’t want to spend the last half of the season trying to win the majority of the games. Their plan, or at least their key to making it into the playoffs this season, was to accumulate as many points as they could in the beginning by starting off strong.
That whole game plan didn’t work. Now, they find themselves sitting in the second to last spot in the Metropolitan Division.
Even with this potential turnaround happening now, will it be enough in the end? Right now, they would need to win the majority of the games in the last half of the season, build up their momentum going into the playoffs (and not burn themselves out in the process), and have a whole heck of a lot of luck on their side.
So far the Devils, like many other teams struck down with illnesses (i.e. mumps) and injuries, have been one of the most unlucky teams this season. Beyond having a 15-20-7 record so far this season, other teams facing these same predicaments have found success and continued to win.
With the new coaching lineup and many heads working to fix the problems the Devils are faced with, you can only hope that three heads will be better than one these next few months. As players return from illnesses and injuries, only good things can come. Right?