A quick look at the NHL schedule will reveal there is a lot of hockey between now and the start of the Stanley-Cup playoffs in April. vBut as far as New Jersey Devils’ head coach Peter DeBoer is concerned, it’s playoff-type hockey – high intensity, high stakes – right now. "This is my fourth year in the NHL and this sprint starts earlier every year," said DeBoer after the Devils’ game-day skate on Tuesday in advance of tonight’s matchup with the Winnipeg Jets (6 p.m.; TSNJets/TSN Sports Radio). "The parity in the league, since we’ve got to the three-point games (two for a win, one for an overtime or shootout loss) has been there every year. Everybody is in full sprint mode right now right to the finish line. "It’s exciting. It’s playoff hockey."
The Devils, 25-17-2, are five points ahead of the Jets, 21-19-5, in the Eastern Conference standings. New Jersey hasn’t played since Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Jets at MTS Centre while Winnipeg flew to New Jersey late Monday after knocking off the Ottawa Senators 2-0 in the nation’s capital. The Jets did not practice here today, opting to let their team rest. Worth noting: Winnipeg is 0-6 in the second leg of back-to-back games on consecutive nights. Winnipeg will again be without Dustin Byfuglien, Zach Bogosian and Blake Wheeler – all out with injuries. But don’t expect the Devils to take their opponents lightly.
"We’ve had some good games with them," DeBoer said. "They’re a good hockey team. They get great goaltending every night from their two guys and they’re capable of scoring goals – I know they haven’t scored a lot lately but they generate offence, especially from their back end with the Enstroms, Byfugliens, Hainseys and those type of players. They’re a dangerous team. "We can’t have a road trip hangover here today. We’ve got four games left before the all-star break, all against teams in our conference, and we’ve got to make sure we don’t throw one away here today. We talked about that this morning. We know what we’re facing in Winnipeg: a really hungry team that played an outstanding game last night in Ottawa."