In their eight games before the All-Star break, the New Jersey Devils (16-30-3) went a staggering 6-1-1.
That streak, their most productive of the season, showed a return to "Devils hockey" and ignited talk of a miracle playoff run.
New Jersey will look to remain hot as they face the Ottawa Senators (17-25-8) tonight at the Prudential Center.
Devils' interim coach Jacques Lemaire, just 1-7-0 in his first eight games, oversaw an overall improvement during his team's eight game stretch. The team outscored opponents, 29-16, and didn't allow more than three goals to any opponent.
Several struggling players also turned in positive performances. Brian Rolston, who twice went through waivers, recorded 11 points in eight games. Martin Brodeur went 5-1-1 during the stretch, returning to the stellar play many fans are accustomed to seeing. Even Ilya Kovalchuk, given more ice time under Lemaire, found his scoring touch, recording eight points in eight games.
Patrik Elias will also look to continue his hot streak. The team leader in points and powerplay goals carries a five-game point streak into tonight's game.
Despite their success, the Devils face a daunting task of contending for the playoffs. They sit 22 points behind the Atlanta Thrashers for the eighth seed, and their 35 points are the lowest in the league.
New Jersey can gain an important two points against a sputtering Senators team tonight. Unlike New Jersey, Ottawa went 1-6-3 before the All-Star break and fell to last in the Northeast Division.
The Sens beat the Devils in their only meeting of the season, 3-2, on December 10. Erik Karlsson had a goal and an assist in the win. Kovalchuk recorded two assists, and a disallowed goal ultimately sealed the Devils loss.