Last month, we told you the NHL was planning a series of outdoor games in 2014 to capitalize on the first post-lockout season, the Olympic buildup and the Super Bowl that will be hosted by New York and New Jersey. Today, the news (kind of) became official):
The NHL will likely release the rest of the schedule, including the Yankee Stadium games, shortly.
Brian Rolston had one of the NHL’s hardest shots in his 17-year career.
But goalies needn’t fear his laser any longer.
The 1991 Devils draft pick announced his retirement Tuesday.
Rolston played in 1,256 NHL games, winning a Stanley Cup in 1995 with the Devils. The Flint, Mich. native registered 130 of his 342 career goals in two tours in New Jersey.
Many of those tallies were scored using a bruising– sometimes literally– slap shot. Rolston also played in three Olympics, winning a silver medal with Team USA in 2002.
Rolston did not play in 2013 but finished his playing career with the Boston Bruins, with whom he also did two tours. Rolston also played stints in Minnesota, Colorado and an infamous 49-game tenure on Long Island.
Though Rolston was a third-line player, Martin Brodeur recalled how he aided New Jersey’s 1995 Stanley Cup-championship run.
He also was one of the few players you’ll ever see perfectly execute the slap-penalty shot
The Devils are still faintly alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
New Jersey must win out and get some help. But after falling behind 2-0 Saturday afternoon, the Devils responded with six-unanswered goals in a 6-2 win over the Florida Panthers.
In Winnipeg, the Jets scored late to force overtime against the New York Islanders. New York claimed a 5-4 shootout win Saturday.
The Jets’ loss leaves them in a precarious spot. Winnipeg now trails the Rangers by one point and the Washington Capitals by three for the Southeast Division lead. The Jets have played the same number of games as Washington and one more than the Rangers.
Winnipeg will meet Washington Tuesday in a game that could eliminate the Jets from division contention. The Caps beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 on Saturday at Bell Centre
The Ottawa Senators, still fighting for their playoff lives, fell at home to the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 on Saturday night. The Leafs clinched a playoff berth with that victory.
That’s what happened yesterday. Here is what will go down Sunday.
The Devils and Rangers meet at Madison Square Garden at 3 p.m. New Jersey needs to beat New York, ideally in regulation, but even an overtime or shootout win will keep the Devils alive for the No. 8 seed.
However if the Devils win in regulation or overtime, that is the best-cased scenario. The Devils must win out, and hope the Rangers go 0-2-2 or worse, to surpass New York.
The Boston Bruins trail the Canadiens by two points for first place in the Northeast Division. Boston can pull even with Montreal if it can knock off the Panthers on Sunday afternoon.
Here is the full slate of Eastern Conference games with playoff implications. All times are p.m. and eastern time.
Florida at Boston, 12:30
DEVILS at N.Y. Rangers, 3
The Devils helped themselves on Thursday night.
Unfortunately for them and their fans, that’s the only help they got.
New Jersey remains six back of eighth place now with only five games remaining. The Devils’ 3-0 win in Philadelphia kept them alive in the playoff hunt with five games left but did them no other good.
The New York Rangers pummeled Florida, 6-1. The Winnipeg Jets blew a two-goal third-period lead, beating the Carolina Hurricanes.
Meanwhile, the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders each stayed hot, winning their games.
The Devils are in a catch-22 tonight too. New Jersey simply must root for the Buffalo Sabres, who will host the Rangers tonight.
New Jersey roots for Buffalo tonight, because a Sabres win will keep the Devils six points behind the No. 8 seed with five games left. New Jersey will have one game in hand on the Rangers with two head-to-head meetings next week.
Meanwhile, the Devils would have two games in hand on Buffalo. Assuming New Jersey wins those two– no small assumption, but the Devils need to win out anyway– it would leap frog the Sabres.
Based on what is happening in Boston, it is unknown whether the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins will meet tonight. However, they’re scheduled to go at 7. A Pittsburgh win would seal it the East’s top seed.
The Bruins and Penguins have been postponed due to the manhunt in Boston. That game’s been rescheduled for Tuesday.
Here’s the full slate of Eastern Conference games for tonight:
N.Y. Rangers at Buffalo, 7
Pittsburgh at Boston, 7
Down six points with just six games left, it’s time for the Devils to start helping themselves.
We can go over the scenarios every day, but without New Jersey wins it doesn’t matter. The Devils are 0-6-4 in their last 10 yet are still mathematically alive.
New Jersey has a game in hand on both the Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets– and two in hand on the Buffalo Sabres. The Devils also will meet the eighth-placed New York Rangers twice in their final six games, leaving a slim chance of postseason still alive.
But the Devils have to start winning games.
They can do that tonight in Philadelphia. If New Jersey beats the Flyers, it’ll hop them for 11th.
The Devils then must root for the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers. The Canes will play in Winnipeg tonight and the, the Panthers trek to Madison Square Garden to meet the Rangers.
Should all that go New Jersey’s way, it’ll trail Winnipeg and New York by four points with a game in hand on the Jets and a crucial meeting with the Rangers Sunday.
That’s about all you can hope for as a Devils fan these days.
Should Winnipeg win, it’ll be rooting for its division-rival Florida, as well as the Ottawa Senators. The Senators will host the Washington Capitals tonight. Washington leads Winnipeg by four points for the Southeast Division lead, and the teams have both played 43 games.
The Senators still can catch the fifth-placed Toronto Maple Leafs, but they can still also be caught by the seventh-placed New York Islanders. The Isles and Leafs will meet tonight in Toronto.
A Toronto win, coupled with a Montreal Canadiens loss to Tampa Bay, will leave the Leafs two back of their divisional rival with just four games left.
The 10th-placed Sabres helped their cause last night with an enormous shootout win over the Boston Bruins. Buffalo is idle tonight but will root for Florida and Carolina.
The full slate of Eastern Conference games with playoff implications. As always, all times are eastern and p.m.
N.Y. Islanders at Toronto, 7
Florida at N.Y. Rangers, 7
Tampa Bay at Montreal, 7
Washington at Ottawa, 7:30
DEVILS at Philadelphia, 7:30
Carolina at Winnipeg, 8
It’s going to take an awful lot to get the Devils into the playoffs.
New Jersey clearly can’t get into the tournament without winning some games. It also hasn’t gotten much help lately.
Still, as it is mathematically possible for the Devils to get in, we keep it up.
After their 10th straight loss– a 2-0 defeat in Toronto– the Devils trail the eighth-placed Rangers by six points with six games left. Two of those games are against the Rangers, but New York undoubtedly will hold the tiebreaker, having won four more regulation and overtime games.
So the Devils need the Rangers to lose. Still, if New York does lose tonight in Philadelphia, the Flyers will hop the Devils and drop New Jersey into 12th.
See why this is dire?
Whatever the case, the Islanders, Rangers, Senators, Capitals and Jets are in action tonight. If the Isles fall to the Panthers, that would put the Devils seven back of seventh place with a game in hand.
With the Southeast Division still up for grabs, the Jets will host the Lightning while the Caps will entertain Toronto. Washington leads Winnipeg by four points, but the teams will meet Tuesday in Washington.
Toronto, meanwhile, only trails the Bruins by three points and the Canadiens by four. The Leafs are 7-1-2 in their last 10 and have built a five-point lead on sixth-placed Ottawa.
Here is the full slate of Eastern Conference games with playoff implications. As always, all times are p.m. and eastern.
Florida at N.Y. Islanders, 7
Toronto at Washington, 7
Carolina at Ottawa, 7:30
N.Y. Rangers at Philadelphia, 7:30
Tampa Bay at Winnipeg, 8
Yesterday, we talked about the Devils had to stop worrying about what other teams were doing and just win a game. Well, that didn’t happen. They didn’t even get an overtime point and now likely have to go 6-1 the rest of the way to make the playoffs, which includes a two-game sweep of the Rangers in the final week.
So tonight, the Devils have no choice but to sit back and root for the other teams. The Senators are off tonight, but they’re completely out of reach. The Islanders are not “untouchable” but they’re a pretty difficult team to catch.
That leaves the Rangers and Jets as the two teams the Devils need to keep both eyes on. Well, no Jets hockey tonight, which means there’s only one game Devils fans should be focused on tonight — Rangers-Islanders. The Devils NEED the Isles to win that game in regulation. Yes, if the Rangers win the Devils would be closer (ideally speaking) to catching the Islanders, but as we said above — it ain’t happening. The Rangers are the target. So, for tonight only, Devils fans need to pull on their orange and blue and hope Evgeni Nabokov continues taking whatever “supplements” he’s currently cycling.
The full slate of games today/tonight that affect the Devils’ playoff picture:
- Flyers at Sabres, 3 p.m. ET
- Rangers at Islanders, 7 p.m. ET
- Lightning at Capitals, 7 p.m. ET
(Editor’s note: Buffalo and Philly are only pictured because they haven’t been mathematically eliminated — yet. We’ll see ya in October, fellas.)
The Devils were in rough shape entering play Thursday night. Then the Senators, Islanders and Jets won in regulation, making the six and seven seeds basically unreachable and adding yet another ROW to Winnipeg’s already impossible number. Those wins, combined with New Jersey’s regulation loss Wednesday, put the Devils hoping for a Jets collapse and a sweep of the two-game mini-series against the Rangers in the final week of the season. That of course assumes the Devils keep pace with the Rangers until that point, which brings me to my next point.
The Devils, for a team that is now dependent on other teams losing, shouldn’t be scoreboard watching anymore (leave that to us, Pete and Lou). All they have to do is win — and win as much as they can. Get regulation wins. Get overtime wins. Hell, even get shootout wins.
Just. Get. Wins.
Luckily for the Devils, they’re playing a team six points above them in the playoff chase in Ottawa, which just stopped their own slide last night. A playoff competitor on the second half of a back-to-back coming off a skid-breaking, sigh-of-relief victory? The Senators sound ripe for a letdown game.
The Islanders, Rangers and Jets can all sit back and watch since Devils-Senators is the only Eastern Conference game on the marquee tonight.
It’s getting late fast for the Devils.
New Jersey’s 5-4 loss to Boston Wednesday leaves it in dire straits. The Devils trail the three-way tie for sixth by four points with only eight games left.
The only solace New Jersey can take is it will have destiny in its own hands. The Devils will meet Ottawa Friday in a crucial affair at Prudential Center. Three of New Jersey’s final eight will be against the Rangers and Sens.
The Devils didn’t get much help from James Reimer and the Maple Leafs on Wednesday. Toronto went to MSG and lost 3-2 in a shootout to the Rangers.
To be fair, the Devils are 0-4-4 in their last eight. Help doesn’t mean much if they don’t win games.
Still, with their playoff hopes fading fast, the Devils will be scoreboard watching tonight. They’ll hope the team that beat them Wednesday, the Boston Bruins, will give them some aid as they host the New York Islanders.
The Devils will also be rooting for Florida, as the Panthers trek to Winnipeg to meet the Jets. New Jersey trails Winnipeg by one point for ninth place.
Crazy as it sounds, the Flyers can also help out New Jersey tonight. Philadelphia hosts Ottawa in a game both teams need. The Flyers trail the Rangers by seven. An Ottawa loss, combined with and an Islanders win, will drop the Sens to eighth place.
The Buffalo Sabres, six points behind the Rangers, Sens and Isles, will host the Montreal Canadiens tonight. Buffalo desperately needs points.
Meanwhile, Montreal trails Boston by one point for the Northeast Division lead.
Have you got all that? Good.
Meanwhile, the Jets and Washington Capials are still angling for the Southeast Division title. While Winnipeg is hosting Florida, the Capitals will be hosting the Carolina Hurricanes. The Jets trail the Caps by two points, but Winnipeg has played one more game than Washington.
Here is the full slate of games for Thursday in the Eastern Conference:
N.Y. Islanders at Boston, 7
Ottawa at Philadelphia, 7
Carolina at Washington, 7
Montreal at Buffalo, 7:30
Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay, 7:30
Florida at Winnipeg, 8