April has to be better.
So far, the early returns indicate it can be for the Devils.
That likely will be the mindset of the Devils, as they finished March with an overall 6-8-3 and left them on the cups of playoff elimination toiling around seventh place in the East Division.
It was a whirlwind and exhaustive 17 games in a 31-day stretch that saw a range of lopsided losses and unsung victories. In February, they had to deal with a COVID outbreak.
During a three-week span from late February until mid-March when they returned from the outbreak, they were free falling, losing 12 of 14 games.
The Devils did end the month with a promising road trip in which they notched a 3-2-1 mark after they began the month with a sluggish 1-5-1 clip.
The month was a myriad of emotions for players and the team alike. It became evident during the month that the team’s success will be in the future, not the present.
The Devils recently had Providence standout Tyce Thompson began practicing with the team Thursday, but he won’t be in the lineup against Washington Friday.
Head coach Lindy Ruff wanted Thompson to become more familiar with his surroundings before thrusting him into the NHL. Again, this is about the long-term scene, not the short one.
They did suffer a heart-breaking 5-4 loss to Boston Wednesday, and begin a back-to-back series with Washington at the Prudential Center Friday night, a team they are winless against this season.
The Devils have the Rangers and Flyers on their upcoming schedule, and they will need to take advantage of both of them if they continue to flounder.
They will have 22 games beginning tonight with Washington. There also is the NHL trade deadline around the corner, which could be a very interesting situation if the Devils start to catch fire. They quickly could become buyers instead of presumed sellers.
“We’re still in the race,” stressed Ruff recently. “We’ve dug ourselves out of a hole.”
It’s April, and we’ll wait and see.