The Devils may be down to only a handful of games this season and a playoff spot is already secured, but there is still plenty to play for heading into the postseason.
The biggest thing right now has remained the hunt to lock up home-ice advantage and possibly catch the Carolina Hurricanes for first in the Metropolitan Division. The Hurricanes had won two straight going into Tuesday’s slate of games and held a three-point lead in the standings with a game in hand.
Equally, if not more notable, is the fact the Rangers are still three points behind the Devils in the division and could leapfrog them if things shake out the wrong way.
The Devils and Rangers seem poised to face one another in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season, though where the series starts plays into the meaningfulness of the final games of the year. The best-of-seven-game series would start in Newark if the season ended at this very moment.
While home-ice or home-field advantage has started to dissipate in many sports, getting the chance to play a rivalry series in your own building to start still holds its merits. The Devils have a perfect 2-0 record against the Rangers this season at Prudential Center and have taken three of their last four games against their Manhattan rivals at home dating back to last season.
The Devils’ success at home extends beyond the Rangers this season as well with New Jersey going 21-13-4 this season entering Tuesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Their 101 goals against at home are some of the fewest in the NHL.
Keeping home ice is very doable for the Devils with games against Columbus, Buffalo and Washington left on the calendar. They’ll also have to face the NHL-Leading Boston Bruins in there as well.
New Jersey has shown it can be just as good on the road this season, owning the second-best record away from home at 27-8-4. Still getting home ice to start the playoffs is well worth the push for the Devils in the final few games of the year.