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So last night while staying up later than my 47 year old self can usually do watching the New Jersey Devils once again win on the West Coast, this time 5-2 over the Los Angeles Kings (after a 6-2 win over Anaheim the night before) I got to thinking about the Devils come April. At this point, barring an epic collapse, the club is finally reaching the postseason for only the second time in a decade. Some would argue this is cart before horse, but I’ve given some thought as to why Lindy Ruff’s club is poised to do some damage in the postseason.

The New Jersey Devils currently sit at the third best record in the NHL, having already surpassed their win total from last year. They are also the single youngest club in the NHL, coming in at an average age of 24.67 years old. Why does this matter? The NHL season, like most sports is a long one. And age catches up to players the longer the season drags on (look at the New York Yankees before and after the All-Star Break last year). At 82 games across 6 months plus an additional 2 months of postseason that fatigue and pain take hold. This is something I’m curious to see in the months ahead.

Additionally I feel this is an contributing factor on a game to game basis, as the Devs hold the third best goal differential in the 3rd period and sit 2nd in the league at goals allowed in the final period. The Boston Bruins, owners of the best of both of those statistics are also the 8th oldest team in the league. Will the third period doom that team? No. I think they’ve put enough space between them and any team not out of Beantown I expect they may sacrifice some of that lead to rest up a roster to prep for that postseason grind. Team fatigue late leads to increased scoring chances and may play a factor in Boston. The Devils, who are already tops in the league in scoring chances could see that statistic improve as we reach Spring.

To wrap up, I feel the longer the season rolls on, the better I believe this team will do. Because youth is in their side. That’s a scary thought for the rest of the league.

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