The Devils enter tonight’s game in Boston in a precarious position in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

After losing their last four games (0-1-3), they are tied with the Rangers and the Islanders with 39 points. The Rangers are in seventh place because they have more non-shootout wins than the Devils and the Devils are in eighth place because they have a game in hand on the Islanders.

With the Islanders playing in Washington tonight, the Devils could find themselves out of a playoff spot if they don’t beat the Bruins tonight. That won’t be easy. They have lost five in a row to the Bruins over the last two seasons (0-3-2), including a 2-1 shootout win on Jan. 29 at TD Garden, but Devils coach Pete DeBoer believes his players understand the urgency of their situation.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” DeBoer said. “They look at the standings. They know exactly where we’re at and what we’re dealing with and there’s a great opportunity here in front of us.”

The Devils went 8-1-3 to pick up 19 points in their first 12 games, putting them in first place in the East. In their 24 games since then, they’ve picked up only 20 points by going 7-11-6.

In other words, the Devils had one more win and only one fewer point in the first quarter of the lockout-shortened season than they had in the second and third quarters combined.

DeBoer has been stressing to the team this week that the only thing that matters now is how they play in their final 12 regular season games.

“It’s’ the final sprint and the message to our team is it doesn’t matter how you got there,” DeBoer said. “Whether it was a slow start and good end or quick start and a slow middle, we’re all in the same boat and it’s who separates themselves here over the next dozen games.”

The Devils have had chances to separate themselves before this season and failed to capitalize. Just last weekend, they blew leads in the final 30 seconds of a 5-4 shootout loss in Tampa Bay and a 3-2 overtime loss in Florida, costing them two points in the standings.