Martin Brodeur and the Devils couldn't have asked for much more through 40 games. Set to officially reach the season's midway point Tuesday against Dallas, New Jersey's 29-10-1 record has them three points ahead of Buffalo for the Eastern Conference lead.
But with the Olympics and the homestretch still to come, Brodeur said the season's second half may yet hold some twists and turns.
"You have to be satisfied with how we’ve come out of the box here," said Brodeur, who has a League-best 26 wins. "But the hard hockey is coming up now. We have this sprint to the Olympic break, and after that some of them will get all the rest they need to get back for the last part of the season. That’s going to be the tough part. Definitely getting points now is important, because they’re harder to get later on."
The Devils won a franchise-record 51 games last season, but exited in the first round of the playoffs for a second straight time. Brodeur, who has enjoyed a record-filled first half, sees postseason success as the team's ultimate goal.
"When you make the playoffs for a lot of years, I think the expectation becomes how you do in the playoffs," he said. "As an athlete, as a player, it’s all about the playoffs. Nobody remembers how you played in the regular season by the summer. There’s one team that’s going to win, that’s the bottom line.
"Hopefully, you’re the one competing for it. We’re definitely looking forward to the challenge, and it’ll be challenge. We feel we’re better equipped this time around. We have a good team with the way we’ve been coached so far. There’s a lot of bright things. But we’re going to need guys to get back in the lineup and we’ll see what the future will bring."