Devils are special, but still struggling

The Devils have been relatively unimpressive during their five-game losing streak, but they have shown some glimmers of improvement on special teams. Over the past four games New Jersey have converted 7 of 15 chances with the man advantage and have killed off all 16 penalties they’ve taken.

That’s not bad at all. In fact it’s downright impressive. But, naturally, there’s a flip side: The Devils have just one even-strength goal in the past four games. New Jersey is the league’s worst team at even strength nearly getting outscored 2 to 1. More bad news for the Devs playoff hopes? Their top three opponents in the Atlantic Division – Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and the Rangers – all rank in the top 10 in 5-on-5 goal differential.

Perhaps it’s for those reasons that the AP published a story yesterday painting a rather grim picture of the Devils’ immediate future. Near the end, the writer jokes that Martin Brodeur was asked yesterday if he asked Santa Claus for a few wins. Hey, it couldn’t hurt.

Morning Links

John MacLean discusses Anssi Salmela’s imminent return on Wednesday on the Devils’ official site.

A little more on the team’s special teams play from the team site.

From Tom Gulitti, Zach Parise is getting healthier, but there are no new developments on a new contract. This season can’t be painting a pretty picture for Parise regarding a future in Jersey. If he re-ups, it won’t be his team with Ilya Kovalchuk inked for the next 14.5 seasons, there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to correct the problems currently plaguing them, Brodeur will be another season close to retirement and they simply won’t have a ton of money to address offseason needs … or provide a hefty contract for Parise. As a restricted free agent, Parise could certainly return to the Devils, but anyone assuming it’s a sure thing at this point is stretching.

Gulitti also writes that the Devils’ faith is being tested this season.

In Lou We Trust speculates over the inaction of the site’s namesake.

Rich Chere writes that the Devils appear set on riding out the storm with John MacLean at the helm.