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New Jersey Devils: A Metropolitan Division Sleeper?

The New Jersey Devils could be an odds-on favorite to sneak into the playoffs via wild card spots in a strong Metropolitan Division.

The New Jersey Devils (11-9-2) are currently sitting fifth in the Metropolitan Division, which isn’t enough to have them as an elite team by anyone’s standards. But, being fifth place in arguably the strongest division in the NHL can get you a lot of things in this league. The Devils started out the season with four straight losses, which had them being lumped into the conversation as one of the worst teams in the NHL. Since then, they have been on a hot streak and, slowly but surely, are climbing up both the divisional and the wild card standings.

Behind the play of alternate captain, Mike Cammalleri, with his team-leading 16 assists and 23 points and his veteran leadership, New Jersey is seeing something of a revival to get them back into the wild card conversation. Cammalleri has been nothing short of a revelation this season and his creativity has been helping the likes of Adam Henrique—who has a team-leading 11 goals—and Kyle Palmieri, with his 7 goals, 9 assists and 16 points.

Considering the bright play of these three, and compounded by the phenomenal season that Cory Schneider has been having with his .927 save percentage, it’s getting increasingly difficult not to consider this team as anything short a playoff-calibre team.

Despite hitting speed bumps recently with losses to an improving Columbus Blue Jackets team along with league leaders Montreal Canadiens, they have been putting out impressive performances that are making them a safe bet for a wild card spot this season. Two wins this month over the Vancouver Canucks (9-8-7), another two wins against the defending Stanley Cup champions Chicago Blackhawks (13-8-2), as well as an impressive 4-0 over divisional rival Pittsburgh (13-8-1), have been impressive.

As the season rolls on, especially tonight against the Canadiens, the Devils will look to the leadership of Cammalleri who is the difference between the re-invented Devils and teams like Florida, Philadelphia, and the New York Islanders. Look for the Devils to continue this hot streak and move up the rankings into a wild card spot come playoff time.

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