It's not easy to watch the New York Rangers rise to the top of the NHL.

It's not any easier to see the Philadelphia Flyers gaining the success they have had halfway through the regular season, either.

But somehow, someway, the Devils have positively reacted to playing in, arguably, the NHL's most talented division, and one that will likely have four playoff teams come April.

New Jersey started mediocre, but unlike last season, they have been able to gain momentum, due in large part to a number of surprise players stepping into key roles. 

Players like rookies Adam Larsson and center Adam Henrique have been big-time acquisitions for the Devils, along with the steady play of Patrik Elias, Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk.

Now, as the Devils are one game past the official halfway point of the season, their 50 points is third-best in the Atlantic Division, behind the Rangers, 58, and the Flyers, 56. 

Last week, in a 3-1 win over the Pittsburg Penguins, New Jersey leaped the Pens in the division and conference standings, a mark that they had been fighting for some time.

The Devils appear to be finding their rythym at the right time. Despite allowing the most short-handed goals in the NHL, they have equalized that statistic by scoring the most short-handed goals with 11. The second-best is the Carolina Hurricanes, who have 7.

As the season progresses, the Devils will have plenty of chances to reach the Flyers and the Rangers, but that might not be the most suitable option for post-season play.

In the past, Devils teams that have reached the top of the conference have seemed to burn out come playoff-time, and right now, Peter DeBoer is content with his team flying under the radar across the conference.

In the best case scenario, the Devils would finish third in the division, slating them in the sixth seed in the conference, where they would play the division winner with the least amount of points, likely the Florida Panthers -- or whoever would win the Southeast Division.

It's a weird thought: not wanting to win your division. But the Devils, despite all the success they had over the last dozen years, are looking for something they haven't had since those Stanley Cup runs: consistency.

They haven't been able to keep a coach, certain players, and recently, their playoff streak. Now, it's time to start to regain the respect and successes that, not too long ago, seemed as a given with the New Jersey Devils.

Many people say the Devils need to go back to playing defensive hockey. The fact of the matter is, that's not going to happen. Teams aren't built around defense anymore, New Jersey can't run the trap they were famously hated for ten years ago, and -- as hard as this is to say -- the centerpiece around it all, Martin Brodeur, will soon be finished playing hockey.

Jaques Lemaire did a terrific job last season with Ilya Kovalchuk, turning the flashy forward into a two-way player. Kovalchuk back-checks, plays on the penalty kill, and is a big reason for the Devils being in a position to make the playoffs this season.

A lot can happen, that's hockey. If the Devils focus and can keep winning games, they can find themselves back to what Devils hockey is known for: winning.