The Devils were given a gift early in the season with an entire week away from the game at the tail end of October. To sweeten the value of the unofficial bye, Cory Schneider, who suffered a lower body injury in Ottawa last Thursday, is planned to be back on the ice and off the injured reserve list for the next game he was scheduled to play, a whole week after his last start. Schneider, who was supposed to be backing up during Friday’s loss to the Sharks, did not dress. Scott Wedgwood was brought up from Binghamton to back up Kinkaid.
This interesting order of events fits right into the positive energy surrounding the Devils eight games into the season.
With 12 points in their first eight games, the Devils are scoring big points early at a pace they have only achieved three times since 1982-83. As for the rest of the Metropolitan division, who are playing at a regular pace, the Devils may escape their week away from the ability to obtain points unscathed.
On Saturday Oct. 26, the first day of the bye week, all seven other teams in the Metropolitan division played. Of the seven, only the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers won their games, the Rangers furthest away from catching the Devils on their week off in the points category. The Devils remained atop the division.
On Sunday, no teams in the Metro division played and no points gained on the Devils, of course. On Monday, the Rangers lost 4-1, keeping them farthest from catching New Jersey still.
On Tuesday, the Islanders beat the Arizona Coyotes 5-3, bringing them within a point of the Devils. The Penguins beat the struggling Oilers 2-1 in overtime, lifting them one point above New Jersey. The Flyers and Hurricanes both lost their games, leaving them just as far away from the Devils as when the night started. On Wednesday, the Blue Jackets beat the Buffalo Sabres, matching the Devils points total at 12.
On their last day off the Blue Jackets, who were the only team playing Wednesday, are the only team not playing Thursday excluding the Devils. This gives only the Islanders and Capitals the opportunity to jump the Devils in points.
Ultimately, no matter how successful the remainder of the division plays while the Devils are off, they will have at least two games in hand against the rest of the division, excluding Carolina, who can’t catch the Devils before they can gain two more points anyway. The Penguins rose above Jersey’s team with their win over the Oilers but will have played three more games. The Blue Jackets matched them as well. At the end of the day, no harm done. They will at least be in a wild-card spot come Friday’s match against the Senators. And with a game against the still winless Arizona Coyotes on Saturday, four more points could be added to their current 12 very soon, raising them above the rest again.