The funny thing is that most outsiders would look at the Devils current four game winning streak and shrug their shoulders. After all, winning out through two home-and-home series against two two subpar teams isn't exactly the greatest of accomplishments. Devils fans, on the other hand, couldn't be more ecstatic. It's not just because they are currently right in the thick of things in their conference and managing to keep up with their peers in the best division in hockey. It's also because they are finally beating who they are supposed to beat with some regularity. Looking at the Devils record the last few seasons you'd think the were getting picked off by any team with a pulse, but it's actually the teams that were dead in the water that were drowning their playoff hopes. I don't know how many times they beat Pittsburgh, Chicago, or Dallas last year, but I'm pretty sure they followed each and every one of those victories up with a devastating loss to the Blue Jackets. Before the past week there's not one true Devils fans that would tell you there's something they feared more than expecting a win due to the caliber of their opponent. If that's a thing of the past then I see no reason why a team that has the goaltending and depth to keep it close with anyone in the league shouldn't be playoff bound.
If the results thus far haven't been encouraging enough then the fact that they haven't even played their best hockey absolutely should be. Last year it would have been impossible to imagine a 4 game win streak that didn't directly correlate with a hot streak from Adam Henrique and/or Kyle Palmieri. This year they just rattled one off without significant contributions from either one of them. Taylor Hall has remained the best player on the ice each and every night, but - while he's been productive in other ways - he has been snake-bitten in terms of finding the back of the net. Who would have thought the Devils would be capable of this type of start while still mixing and matching lines to try to find chemistry and relying on the secondary scoring of the bottom 6 and the back end? If you had told me that Damon Severson, Travis Zajac, and P.A. Parenteau were the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best point producers on the team through 14 games I would have been ready to down the nearest bottle of bleach. Instead I'm only a decent west coast road trip away from showering myself in cheap champagne.
This team hasn't even fully clicked yet and they have still put up over 40 shots on multiple nights. They've already given a previously maligned backup goaltender three starts and not one of them has resulted in a regulation loss. They are no longer completely dependent on their powerplay to score goals and it doesn't feel like Cory Schneider has to put on a nightly circus act for them to be successful. There's no shortage of things this team needs to get better at, but their ability to win games while they do so is something that I don't think many Devils fans saw coming so early in the season. Especially if the outcome of said games was going to come down to Andy Greene taking overtime penalty shots....