Skip to content

NHL on NBCSN: Devils fight to stay in heart of playoff race vs Avs

Feb 3, 2014, 8:44 AM EST

New Jersey Devils right wing Michael Ryder, left, moves the puck down the ice as Colorado Avalanche center Ryan O'Reilly covers in the third period of the Avalanche's 2-1 shootout victory in an NHL hockey game in Denver on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) AP

NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the New Jersey Devils host the Colorado Avalanche at the Prudential Center at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

Going into the season, not much was expected of the Devils or Avalanche. That’s where the similarities between their seasons end.

The Colorado Avalanche, fresh off making Joe Sakic the team’s executive vice president and Patrick Roy the head coach, became the talk of the league when they kicked off their campaign with a 14-2-0 run. They’ve hit a couple bumps in the road since then, but haven’t dramatically slowed down. They’ve only endured a single three-game losing streak and one four-contest slump on their road to a 35-14-5 record.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $2,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s late NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $400. Starts Monday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Rookie Nathan MacKinnon has been everything they could have hoped for after being selected with the first overall pick, but their roster isn’t substantial different from the one that finished last in the Western Conference in 2013. Instead, they have succeeded largely by getting more out of the same guys and goaltender Semyon Varlamov in particular.

Varlamov has rebounded from a rough 2013 campaign thanks in part to Roy and goalie coach Francois Allaire’s guidance. Colorado recently rewarded Varlamov for his comeback with a five-year, $29.5 million extension.

Meanwhile, the New Jersey Devils’ roster is substantially different from what it was even last season with far more mixed results. To be fair, Devils GM Lou Lamoriello can’t really be blamed for that. From a short-term perspective, the single worst thing to happen to New Jersey over the summer was Ilya Kovalchuk deciding to “retire” to get out of his contract and move to the KHL.

The Devils were forced to scramble to overcome the offensive void he left and while Jaromir Jagr has done a remarkable job, especially at the age of 41, they were struggling to find the back of the net even before Kovalchuk left.

Even a strong season out of goaltender Cory Schneider hasn’t been enough to turn the tide. All he’s been able to do is keep them afloat so that while they’re shy of a Wild Card spot, at least they’re still very much in the race.

In fact, given that only two points separate second and sixth place in the battle for Wild Card spots in the Eastern Conference, every game is still critical for the Devils. At the same time, the Avalanche could use a win as they try to stay in the battle for the Central Division title against the formidable St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks.

Latest Posts
  1. Video: Oilers awarded a penalty shot in overtime

    Nov 27, 2014, 10:50 PM EST

    Jordan Eberle Getty Images

    Shea Weber covered the puck in the crease.

  2. Hextall: ‘My biggest concern is consistency’

    Nov 27, 2014, 10:35 PM EST

    2013 NHL Draft Getty Images

    Flyers play host to the Rangers Friday afternoon.

  3. Report: Kontiola joins KHL club Lokomotiv

    Nov 27, 2014, 7:30 PM EST

    Petri Kontiola Getty Images

    Struggled in the American Hockey League this season.

  4. Sens confirm Alfredsson to be honored Dec. 4

    Nov 27, 2014, 6:30 PM EST

    Daniel Alfredsson AP

    Expected to formally announce his retirement next Thursday morning.

  5. Coyotes ‘hope we can make a deal’ with trade target Vermette

    Nov 27, 2014, 5:15 PM EST

    Antoine Vermette

    Talented center would be a prized pickup at the deadline.

  6. Remparts sold to Quebecor, will move to new Quebec City arena

    Nov 27, 2014, 4:00 PM EST

    Quebec Remparts v Drummondville Voltigeurs Getty Images

    Patrick Roy doesn’t own part of a junior team anymore.

  7. Lowry suspended one game for boarding Kaleta

    Nov 27, 2014, 2:41 PM EST

    Lowry-Kaleta

    Incident occurred during Wednesday’s Jets-Sabres game.

  8. Canucks’ Kassian out a ‘few weeks’ with finger injury

    Nov 27, 2014, 2:27 PM EST

    zackkassiangetty Getty Images

    Linden Vey gets back into the lineup for tomorrow’s game in Columbus.

  9. Garbutt suspended two games for ‘reckless’ knee-on-knee hit

    Nov 27, 2014, 2:12 PM EST

    GarbuttHallKnee

    Dallas forward has history as a repeat offender.

  10. Not so big and bad anymore, the Bruins would like to add some ‘heaviness’

    Nov 27, 2014, 2:03 PM EST

    Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Two Getty Images

    That’s a picture of Shawn Thornton, who doesn’t play for them anymore.

  11. After ‘disappointing’ road trip, is DeBoer on the hot seat?

    Nov 27, 2014, 1:16 PM EST

    Peter DeBoer AP

    Devils currently sit 12th in the Eastern Conference.

  12. Flyers waive Akeson

    Nov 27, 2014, 12:29 PM EST

    Columbus Blue Jackets v Philadelphia Flyers Getty Images

    Played in 14 games over parts of the last three seasons.

  13. Report: Justin Schultz to be healthy scratch versus Preds

    Nov 27, 2014, 12:17 PM EST

    Justin Schultz AP

    Following Tuesday’s “mind-numbing” change in Dallas.

  14. After 21-game absence, Fisher (ruptured Achilles) back for Preds

    Nov 27, 2014, 12:02 PM EST

    Mike Fisher Getty Images

    Big boost for Nashville, who hosts Edmonton tonight.

  15. With Luongo hurt, Panthers recall Ellis

    Nov 27, 2014, 11:18 AM EST

    Roberto Luongo Roberto Luongo

    Florida’s No. 1 left Wednesday’s game early.

Featured video

Eakins on his way out of Edmonton?

Sign up for Fantasy hockey

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. S. Crosby (2775)
  2. V. Hedman (2712)
  3. P. Datsyuk (2636)
  4. P. Sharp (2402)
  5. D. Krejci (2240)
  1. Z. Chara (1932)
  2. B. Marchand (1881)
  3. B. Elliott (1816)
  4. B. Dubinsky (1816)
  5. S. Varlamov (1762)