One step forward, one step back.
At some point, the Devils will need to make a move up the standings in the Metropolitan Division. Hanging around all season and perpetuating a pattern of wins and losses while gaining no ground.
Second place in the division is just four points away. At this point though, with four other teams ahead of them for that second spot, it's not as easy as just putting a few wins together.
Tuesday's game against the Flyers may be the most important game of the season so far. It's a four-point game, which will either bring the Devils to within two points of second place Philadelphia, or drop them six points behind. After a completely uninspiring loss to the Sabres, the Devils will need to play a great game to beat the streaking Flyers.
The Eric Gelinas situation resolved itself quickly, after he was called up once again from Albany with Patrik Elias placed on IR. If anything, the recall to Albany served as a wake up call to the young defenseman. Though he started out strong, his last few games in New Jersey left a lot to be desired. Turnovers and no points to show for it, he was in a bit of a slump. Perhaps the short stint being sent down will clear his mind.
Moving forward, it's more of the same formula that has worked at times for the Devils this season. They'll need to continue the strong defense and will have to rely on the goaltending. Of course, the most important aspect is offense. Jaromir Jagr has cooled off lately, with only one point in his last six games.
Michael Ryder and Adam Henrique have emerged as quality options lately, but those two will need to continue to produce. If Jagr has hit a wall, or is just going through a natural slump, the goals will need to come from somewhere. With Damien Brunner and Elias out, the Devils are a much weaker offensive club.
The loss of Elias is huge. He has played ten less games than just about every other player in the top five on the team in scoring, yet he's still second on the club with 25 points (7 goals, 18 assists). The impact of Elias on this club is immense. Whether its 5-on-5, or on the power play, the Devils are a much better team with him in the lineup. With his injury now being touted as something "not minor," he may not be back for any of the three games this week.
The Flyers, Stars and Panthers, all from home this week. No back-to-backs, just six huge points on the line. No longer is the excuse of "it's still early" or "this team is still coming together" going to fly. Either this team has to start ripping off multiple wins in order to stay above NHL-.500, or they will eventually be passed.
With the Flyers and Rangers playing better hockey and teams like the Capitals, Blue Jackets and Hurricanes still in the mix, ordinary isn't going to cut it moving forward.