Although the New Jersey Devils are struggling, it’s probably not time to push the panic button yet.
That could change, however, should their longest losing streak of the season reach four when they host the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.
After suffering a 4-0 loss to Vancouver just before the All-Star break on Feb. 5, the Devils have continued to struggle offensively. They lost 4-1 at Philadelphia on Tuesday and were beaten 3-1 by the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
The three-game losing streak is New Jersey’s longest since a four-game skid from Nov. 13-18, 2001.
The Devils have dropped nine points behind the Atlantic Division-leading Flyers and fallen into sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
“The rope is not hanging at home where I’m going to throw myself off a chair, even though some of you would like to see it,” Devils coach Pat Burns said. “We’re in a little drought scoring-wise and it’ll come around.”
Although he is not much of an offensive contributor, New Jersey clearly isn’t the same team without captain Scott Stevens. In the 16 games Stevens has missed with post-concussion syndrome, the Devils are 7-8-1.
One player the Devils need production from is center Scott Gomez, who has no goals and four assists in his last 15 games. Another forward struggling to score is right wing Jamie Langenbrunner, who has no goals in six games since returning from a bruised knee that sidelined him two months. Langenbrunner hasn’t scored in his last 11 contests.
Carolina has been all but eliminated from the playoff race, sitting in 13th place in the East with lots of ground to make up on the eighth-place New York Islanders.
Pavel Brendl’s goal with 5:03 left in regulation helped the struggling Hurricanes salvage a point with a 3-3 tie against Washington on Thursday.
“We needed to win a hockey game,” Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. “We had lots of possession time, lots of Grade-A scoring opportunities and no results. It’s frustrating.”
Carolina is 9-14-3 since Laviolette took over as coach Dec. 15. The Hurricanes were 8-12-8-1 under Paul Maurice.