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Road Warriors

Hot streak away from The Rock keeps the Devils in playoff hunt

by Brian Born @BrianBorn / newjerseydevils.com

The Devils early season struggles on the road have come to a screeching halt. The Devils posted an unimpressive 4-12-5 road record for the season following a Dec. 23 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Playoff chances seemed to be dwindling, injuries were mounting and a quick turnaround was needed.  

The tides began to turn on Dec. 29 in the nation's capital. The Devils faced off with the Washington Capitals, who are amongst the top teams in the NHL. Keith Kinkaid's 43 save effort in a 2-1 shootout win over the Caps seemed to be the jumpstart the Devils needed to end their road game woes. Since that victory in D.C., the New Jersey has posted an 8-0-1 record away from Prudential Center, including six straight W's into the bye week. 

Video: NJD@WSH: Kinkaid makes 43 saves in win against Caps
Attribution for road success does not fall in one place. Most importantly, the Devils are starting to get healthy. Captain Andy Greene and NHL All-Star Taylor Hall missed significant time during November, December and January, returning 100% healthy as of recent. John Moore and Jon Merrill hope to return to the lineup soon and will bring added depth to the blueline. 

New Jersey has posted impressive road victories during this stretch. The club went 3-0-1 on a difficult Western Conference swing that included a statement win over the Minnesota Wild, who held the NHL's best record at the time. Since then, the Devils defeated division rival Philadelphia Flyers and the surging Columbus Blue Jackets, leaving little doubt in a convincing 5-1 win in Ohio.

Video: NJD@CBJ: Hall goes five-hole with slick backhand
The youth movement in New Jersey is real and has been on display over the past five weeks. Miles Wood had a breakout January, showing off his size, speed, and skill on a nightly basis. Pavel Zacha is looking more and more comfortable as an NHL regular since being a healthy scratch on Dec. 29. The 2015 NHL first round draft pick hasn't missed a game since and has posted four goals and three assists over the last nine games played. Twenty-three-year-old Stefan Noesen (claimed off waivers from Anaheim on Jan. 25) has provided stability to the Devils third line with Zacha and Jacob Josefson and even scored in his first two appearances with the club. Damon Severson continues to grow and currently ranks second amongst Devils in assists (20), only trailing Taylor Hall (21).

Veteran leadership from Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri provided an offensive resurgence that has delivered points on the road. Since Dec. 29, Hall (4g-4a) and Palmieri (6g-4a) have been on fire in the last nine games played away from The Rock. Cory Schneider has looked like the All-Star from 2016, picking up 11 points in six straight road appearances.

Video: NJD@DET: Palmieri cuts across slot for pretty SHG

What's next? Translating the Devils road successes to home-ice. New Jersey will only travel once more in February (Feb. 19 vs. NYI). That means the team is slated for seven home games between Feb. 12 and Feb. 27. Picking up points on home-ice and in February will be crucial as the Devils continue a push for the playoffs. Don't miss any of our upcoming games at Prudential Center.

Feb. 12- Taylor Hall Bobblehead Night presented by Investors Bank
Feb. 14- Devils Valentines Day Game
Feb. 16- Devils "Love Your Melon" Night
Feb. 18- Metropolitan Division matchup vs. Islanders
Feb. 21- Devils vs. Senators
Feb. 25- Rivalry Night: Devils vs. Rangers
Feb. 27- Devils Pride Night

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