They can no longer be ignored, brushed aside or considered as some kind of annoying afterthought. A year after they finished out of the playoffs completely, the New Jersey Devils are one game away from playing in the Eastern Conference Finals.
If the Devils return to the playoffs this spring, the extra points New Jersey has collected in overtimes and shootouts this season will be a major reason why.
The Devils suffered their first regulation loss since the All-Star game, a 3-1 defeat against the Florida Panthers this past Saturday, giving New Jersey a 5-1-1 mark since the break.
The Devils found themselves in an eerily dark Prudential Center Monday morning, clearing out their lockers and heading home, a situation that the franchise had not experienced since 1996.
To a man, the New Jersey Devils do not believe that they are as poor as their 4-10-2 record indicates.
The three local NHL teams have built their rosters in a variety of ways this season.
So, is there any hope? Can any of the three locals compete for a title like the Jets or Yankees or is this going to be a winter of bad ice chips in the metropolitan area?