Last spring, the New Jersey Devils learned first-hand how much ground they need to make up on the Tampa Bay Lightning, decisively losing a first-round playoff series four games to one.
As the teams get set to meet Monday night at the Prudential Center, the gap between the Lightning and Devils has widened considerably.
While the Lightning (19-7-1) are once again on top of the Eastern Conference, the Devils (9-11-5) are last in the East after finishing in eighth place a year ago.
"That playoff series was eye-opening for our players, it showed just how far we've got to go to be considered one of the better teams in the league," said Devils coach John Hynes. "But we told the players this is a new season, there's not necessarily a carry-over from the previous season, and we have to script a new story."
So far, that story is largely disappointing for the Devils, who have lost five straight following a 4-3 overtime defeat on home ice to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. The Devils surrendered 23 goals in the past five games, three of which were decided in overtime. New Jersey is 0-5 in overtime this season as opposed to 10-9 in 2017-18.
Among their issues this season, the Devils surrender 3.44 goals per game, ranking them near the bottom of the league. Their minus-12 goal differential is tied for worst in the Eastern Conference. They have only two power-play goals in the last 12 games. And the Devils are winless in eight games (0-7-1) when trailing after the first period. >> Read more
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