The New Jersey Devils (30-31-3) incredible 20-2-2 run has them sitting a mere eight points from the final playoff spot.
Reaching the playoffs, however, remains a monumentous task.
"It's not that you don't believe," Devils' coach Jacques Lemaire told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. "The thing is games are running out. That's what I'm looking at. Soon there will be 10 games left. Soon. So, let's say we lose one or two games there. We're back to where we were."
New Jersey will look to continue their playoff push tonight against the league worst Ottawa Senators (22-34-9) at the Prudential Center.
The Devils' enter tonight's game searching for their fifth overall win and seventh in a row at home. If New Jersey can push their home point streak to 12, it would be the longest since December 14, 1999 to February 15, 2000.
New Jersey, who defeated the Senators 2-1 on February 1, will look for their seventh straight win over Ottawa.
A win tonight would bring the Devils to .500, the first time since the start of the season they held that mark. The team realized the importance of that mark while pushing for the playoffs.
"Our first thing was that if you want to make the playoffs, you need to be a .500 team," goaltender Martin Brodeur told Gulitti. "So it's kind of nice to be able to have the opportunity because we were so far behind at one point."
Brodeur and Johan Hedberg have helped continue the Devils second-half turnaround. Brodeur enters tonight's game with a 12-1-1 record and 1.70 goals-against average in his last 14 starts. Hedberg started eight games in February, winning seven straight starts. Their recent performance moved New Jersey into 11th in the league with a goals-against average of 2.54 goals per game.
Lemaire told reports its the best goaltending he's seen all season.
"It's got to be pretty much the best we've had so far," Lemaire told Gulitti. "You look at the amount of goals we've been giving (up,) they've been steady, both of them. When Marty got injured, Heddy did a tremendous job. He went from playing average to being really good. And Marty comes back and plays well."
Ilya Kovalchuk also turned his season around, recording 14 goals and 27 points during the recent stretch. His nine game-winning goals rank him first in the league.
With the season dwindling down, New Jersey realizes the difficult task ahead of them.
"Now, we've come to a point where we want to win every night," Hedberg said to Gulitti. "But maybe we feel it even more now when we're doing something right. It's something we want to keep going. We don't want to disappoint this room. Everybody is enjoying the season they're having winning. You see it in the dressing room, you see it on the ice, you see it on the ice, you see it on the bus, you see it on the plane. It's a lot more loose and a lot more positive and fun when things are going well."
Other Games of Importance
With the Devils pushing for a playoff spot, here are other games tonight that directly affect their position in the standings: