Devils Host the Penguins in What Is an Important Match for Both

by Peter Candia
devils make playoffs

With the regular season coming to a close, the New Jersey Devils are enjoying the certainty of a playoff berth. Nearing the end of March, the Devils were able to clinch their first playoff appearance since 2018. Finally, they can relax for the remainder of the season as they prepare for the grueling competition that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs—or can they? Yes and no. 

The Devils trail the Carolina Hurricanes by just three points in the Metropolitan Division. If they are able to pull off the unthinkable and close that gap before the season ends five games from now, they can secure the number one seed going into the playoffs—something the Devs haven’t pulled off since 1997. Securing the one spot would be a sigh of relief for the Devils as they would get to face off against a wildcard team rather than the pesky Rangers who they are poised to face as of right now. Likewise, the opposite scenario can come true and spoil (some of) the Devils’ riches. If the Rangers—who trail the Devils by three points in the division—can catch up, they can force the Devils down to the three seed. Though this wouldn’t change their matchup per se, it would allow the Rangers to enjoy home-ice advantage for the series.

jack hughes

Photos courtesy of New Jersey Devils

What this means for the Devils is that although their spot in the 16-team playoffs has been secured, they cannot get complacent. These remaining games are important. If they are caught lacking, the Rangers can move up and similarly, if the Canes are caught, the Devils can make a late-season pull for that alluring one seed. Either way, the likely matchup between the two rivals—separated only by the Hudson River—is bound to be a nail-biter. Both teams have had memorable seasons, though the slight edge has been on the Devils side. As most hockey fans know, the playoffs are a brand new game, though. 

The Devils head into a matchup with the Penguins at home Tuesday night. The Devils by all means are the better team, but the Penguins can never truly be counted out and have made a push to scrape into the playoffs via the wildcard—which they are desperately trying to hold on to. Unfortunately for the Penguins, The Devils cannot give up games at the moment with their current one seed hopes still hanging on by a thread.

The Devils have less than a week of games remaining and seemingly there is still gas in the tank. The prolific scorers in Hughes, Bratt and Hischier have been a constant bright spot for the Devs throughout the season. Though defense has been an up-and-down battle all year, Graves shows promise and Marino has been a serious threat when healthy—though, the Devils defense did surrender 6 goals to the inferior Jets on Sunday.

Devils playoffs

Photos courtesy of New Jersey Devils

Still, this has been a great season for Devils fans—including a historic win streak early on in the season—and they have a locked-in playoff spot to show for it. These few remaining games offer two opportunities for the Devils: An unlikely last-minute  sprint to the one seed, or important practice for the most grueling playoffs in professional sports. Which option they go with is anybody’s guess.

About the Author/s

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Peter Candia is the Food + Drink Editor at New Jersey Digest. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, Peter found a passion for writing midway through school and never looked back. He is a former line cook, server and bartender at top-rated restaurants in the tri-state area. In addition to food, Peter enjoys politics, music, sports and anything New Jersey.

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