It’s 2016 and the New Jersey Devils face their toughest month of hockey this January with non-stop tests from contending hockey powers.
By Patrick Comia
A new year is upon us, and new challenges face the New Jersey Devils right off the bat.
Starting today, the team will embark on their toughest stretch of hockey, up to this point. In the next 12 days, the Devils will face some of today’s hockey powers including the Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, and St. Louis Blues.
It’s not for the faint of heart, but if the Devils can emerge from these games with at least a point, then they can establish their claim as a contender in the Eastern Conference.
While looking to catch the first place Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan Division is not in their immediate future, the New York Rangers and Islanders are within a couple of points of being caught.
And with their all-time franchise leader in points, Patrik Elias, back on the IR list for his knee, it will be even more important for New Jersey to rise among this upcoming challenge.
That’s where players like Sergey Kalinin can become more of an impact player.
And the Devils will need him to. Despite his offensive numbers this season, just seven points in 36 games played this season, his presence on the ice seems to be growing more and more with each passing game. Fans can see the confidence he is skating with, with more ice time in key situations.
Kalinin’s mistakes are not as magnified due to his situational awareness where the puck is and who has it. He is able to make a mistake on the offensive side, and come back and help back check on the defensive side.
And with his willingness to goto the front of the net, Kalinin is becoming a weapon of choice to John Hynes’s coaching staff to be utilized when the game action warrants it.
But, all of this talk will need to be reality, if Devils fans want to believe in this team’s success. Let’s take a look at what awaits New Jersey in the coming two weeks: