It is all about perspective for the Devils.
The reigning Eastern Conference champions recognize that entering last night’s nationally televised Turnpike Tussle with the Flyers they had lost 9-of-13 dating back to Feb. 15.
But instead of dwelling on the negative, head coach Pete DeBoer is pointing to the fact that the Devils have won two-of-their-last-three games.
“It’s never perfect in a coach’s eyes but I think we’re getting rewarded for some of our hard work lately,” DeBoer told reporters Wednesday morning. “Which is what we needed and hopefully we can build on that.”
The Devils entered last night’s game seventh in the Eastern Conference with 29 points. They are two points behind sixth seed Toronto and lead the eighth seeded Rangers by a point.
The Devils have 22 games remaining this season. Of the 22 games remaining, 11 are at home and 11 are on the road. The Devils are 8-3-2 at the Prudential Center, but are only 4-6-3 away from Newark.
Despite a 3-2 win over the Sabres on Sunday, the Flyers are 11th in the East with 25 points. Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov told reporters after the Flyers practice Tuesday that the season would be “done” if the Devils swept the home-and-home, and left wing Scott Hartnell called out his teammates for bad body language following the 3-0 loss to the Bruins at the TD Garden on Saturday.
“If one thing goes wrong, whether it a be bad call or the first goal on that power play where he made a great play, you look down the bench and everyone’s heads are down. We were deflated right from that,” Hartnell said after the loss. “That’s not what good teams do. It’s on us to pick each other up and support each other and be positive. It just seemed like we were down 1-0 and it seemed like we packed it in.”
So the Devils were acutely aware of the importance the Flyers placed on last night’s nationally televised matchup.
“You don’t have to dwell on it. They’re aware. Philly-New Jersey matchup, whether it’s in July or a season on the line, is going to be emotional and the energy levels are going to be high. You don’t have to say a lot about it,” DeBoer said.
The Flyers and Devils are scheduled to meet at the Wells Fargo Center on Friday. The Devils have won the first two games of the five game season series.
Boucher signs deal
Late Wednesday afternoon the Devils announced right wing Reid Boucher signed an entry-level deal. Terms were undisclosed. The Devils drafted the OHL Sarnia Sting product with the 99th overall pick in the 2011 Entry Draft.
In two years with Sarnia, Boucher has scored 90 goals and 144 points in 132 games.
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.