Regardless of the Devils' opponent, head coach Brent Sutter says his job is to get his team ready to play.
With seven wins in their last eight games, the Devils have shown that they're capable of beating teams on both sides of the .500 mark.
New Jersey's season-high five-game winning streak last month included four victories against teams with losing records: two versus Florida and one apiece versus Tampa and the Islanders.
But after coming up short in a 4-1 loss to the Penguins, who visit Prudential Center Wednesday, the club rebounded with back-to-back overtime victories at Philadelphia and Montreal. The Flyers lead the Devils by two points for third in the Atlantic, and the Canadiens are second in the Northeast.
"They're all such tough opponents today," Sutter said after Tuesday's practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion. "Every game, if you don't have a solid game, winning isn't going to happen if the other team's having a solid game. Doesn't matter who you're playing. There's just too many good players and too many good teams."
New Jersey's (14-8-2) upcoming three-game homestand will also feature meetings with the Rangers Friday and Buffalo Saturday. After three games versus the Northeast next week, the Devils will face Philadelphia (Dec. 21), East-leading Boston (Dec. 23), Pittsburgh (Dec. 26) and the Rangers (Dec. 27) in a span of seven days.
"We're having a run here and we have to continue to play well to continue on it," Sutter said. "The games don't get easier as you go along. You look at the conference standings and it's pretty tight. We have an opportunity throughout this week to play two divisional games and then another tough conference game. We really have to step up here. It comes back to playing well to have success."
The play of Scott Clemmensen has been a major boon for the Devils, who have gone 8-6 since losing Martin Brodeur
(left elbow) on Nov. 1. Clemmensen started every game of the team's recent five-game road trip and finished 4-1.
"He's very confident," Sutter said of his goaltender, who is 6-3-0 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .922 save percentage this season. "He's having an opportunity to play on a regular basis, which has obviously helped him. He played very well in the American League last year, when he was playing. It's a combination of all those things. He's a confident person, he's very calm. He doesn't get rattled very much."
The Devils will host their Toys for Tots collection before Wednesday's game, and attending fans are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy... Saturday's game versus Buffalo will be Nathan's Dollar Dog Night. All fans in attendance will be able to buy Nathan's hot dogs for just $1 each, all game long.