In a battle between struggling teams Thursday night, it was the Leafs that earned the win, while the Devils slid further into their hole after a 3-1 loss in Toronto.
Probably the most disappointing part of the loss is the two games that follow. The Devils next face two of the league’s best teams in the St. Louis Blues (Saturday in St. Louis) and Washington Capitals (Monday at home). Potentially more devastating would be the absence of Martin Brodeur, who will have his injured right elbow evaluated after leaving the ice following the second period Thursday.
A lack of offense is still hurting the team, with their 1.8 goals per game mark serving as the league low. Only four times in their last 14 games have the Devils scored more than a single goal.
For a supposed Stanley Cup contender, the playoff picture has turned grim shockingly early. With just 12 points through 19 games, the Devils need to produce at a .619 points percentage from now on just to compete for the last spot in the East. Currently only eight NHL teams are cruising at that rate.
When healthy, the Devils can certainly perform like one of the top eight teams in the NHL. But without Zach Parise, with Brodeur’s health a question mark and with a horrible track record as we close in on the season’s one-quarter poll, something will have to change to give the Devs a more convincing playoff chance.