Even though the Devils’ 2013 season is over, we can still look back at some great moments in New Jersey’s playoff history.
On April 30…
1988- Kirk Muller scores 14 seconds into the game, and John MacLean’s third-period redirection serves as the game-winning goal in New Jersey’s 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals in game 7 of the Patrick Division finals at the Cap Center.
New Jersey’s win clinches the franchise’s first trip to the Prince of Wales Finals against the Boston Bruins.
1998- Brian Rolston, Doug Gilmour and Lyle Odelein each pot goals, as New Jersey staves off elimination with a 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators in game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Continental Airlines Arena.
2003- Scott Gomez records a goal and an assist, and Scott Stevens scores a goal just two days after being hit in the head with a slap shot, as the Devils pull within one game of the Eastern Conference finals with a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Even though the Devils’ playoff chances are finished for 2013, we can still look back at some great moments in New Jersey’s playoff history.
On April 28…
2001- After losing game one, the Devils blow a 5-1 third-period lead in game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Toronto Maple Leafs. But Randy McKay’s goal at 5:30 of the first overtime lifts New Jersey to a 6-5 win over the Leafs, evening their best-of-seven series at 1.
For those who don’t remember:
2003- New Jersey falls behind against the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-0 after one period but rallies to tie the game at three with three second-period goals.
But Dave Andreychuk’s third-period goal lifts the Lightning to a 4-3 win, cutting New Jersey’s series lead to 2-1. Game 3 is more memorable because Devils defenseman Scott Stevens was injured after being hit in the head by a Pavel Kubina slap shot. Stevens left the game but returned in game 4.
2007- Jamie Langenbrunner’s goal at 1:55 of the second overtime lifts New Jersey to a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators, evening the series at 1.
That win was the Devils’ final victory at the Continental Airlines Arena.
2009- Despite clinging to a one-goal lead late in the third, New Jersey surrenders two goals in the final 1:20– just 48 seconds apart– as the Carolina Hurricanes claimed game 7 4-3, claiming the best-of-seven series by the same margin.
No clips necessary. I’m sure we all remember that one.
The New York Rangers looked like they had something to play for on Saturday afternoon.
The Devils did not.
New Jersey ended its disappointing campaign with a flat, uninspired effort in a 4-0 loss to New York at Madison Square Garden.
Ryan Callahan and Derek Stepan each recorded a goal and an assist, Rick Nash scored twice, and Brad Richards had two assists as New York finished its regular season 26-18-4.
The Rangers locked up at least the No. 7 seed in the upcoming Eastern Conference playoffs and can finish sixth if the Ottawa Senators lose their remaining two games– or if Ottawa finishes 1-1.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 20 shots he faced.
Johan Hedberg stopped 17 shots. The Devils finished their lockout-shortened 48-game campaign with 48 points– a perfectly-mediocre 19-19-10.
While the whole team looked disinterested, the Devils defense looked downright egregious.
Peter Harrold and Andy Greene were the Devils’ only two Even ‘D’ and both took penalties.
Adam Larsson and Marek Zidlicky were both minus-2 — Larsson could’ve gotten a secondary assist on Nash’s first goal. Meanwhile, Zidlicky was caught flatfooted on several occasions and made a weak pass that Stepan easily stole and dished to Callahan on his shorthanded goal late in the first.
Zidlicky will be an unrestricted-free agent at season’s end, and I’d be stunned if he returns. He was minus-10 and was essentially the posterchild for New Jersey’s defensive woes this year.
Ilya Kovalchuk wasn’t much better, finishing a minus-2 and only earning two shots. Kovalchuk was caught watching on Nash’s second goal, failing to backcheck or do anything more than stare as Nash beat Hedberg.
Hedberg’s left pad was Nash’s top foil.
The dynamic winger could’ve had at least four goals– even five– but Hedberg’s pad stymied five of Nash’s game-high seven shots.
Hedberg’s left pad was good in New Jersey’s win Thursday, and he performed admirably in place of Martin Brodeur.
Still, Brodeur was still not immune from MSG ridicule. The Garden’s fans peppered him with “We want Marty” and “Mar-ty” song chants.
Brodeur hadn’t sat an entire game on the bench at MSG in almost 20 years.
New Jersey’s penalty kill was about its only bright spot Saturday.
The Devils held the Rangers shotless in six man-advantages, including a pair of two-man advantages.
The Devils’ penalty kill was a major Achilles’ heel at points this year but closed the campaign killing their last seven, finishing 16th in the NHL in penalty killing.
Anton Volchenkov led the Devils on Saturday with three shots.
That pretty much tells the story, doesn’t it?
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
The Devils have a real chance to gain ground against another playoff contender tonight.
Who: Ottawa Senators at New Jersey Devils
When: 7:00 p.m. ET; Pregame show at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
Media: TV - MSG+ (Channel listings); Radio – 970 AM
Twitter: @cgriffin415 | @SNYDevils
Stats & Notes (via Devils PR)
- New Jersey is looking to end a season-high seven game losing streak (0-3-4) tonight.
- The Devils lost 3-2 in the shootout at Buffalo Sunday night. Each of the three meetings between the Devils and Sabres went to the shootout, with the home team winning each time. New Jersey is 0-6 in the shootout on the road this year and 2-7 overall.
- The Devils closed-out their ninth of ten sets of back-to-back games Sunday. New Jersey is now 2-5-2 in first games and 3-4-2 in second games when playing on consecutive dates.
- The Devils have out shot their opponent in 18 of the past 20 games.
- New Jersey’s penalty-kill unit is 28/31 (90.3%) over the past 12 games.
- New Jersey is 0-4-2 in its last six games vs. Boston (last win, 3-2, April 10, 2011).
- Last Thursday in Boston, the Devils were shut out for the first time this season & first time since March 13, 2012 at Philadelphia.
- Tonight’s game is the fourth of six straight against Northeast Division opponents. The Devils are 1-4-6 against the Northeast this season.
- Martin Brodeur (24 saves + 1/2 SO) took the loss Sunday. He has started nine consecutive games and is 2-3-4 with a 2.07 goals-against average & .903 save-percentage since returning to the lineup on March 21 at Carolina.
Forwards Defense Goalie
Elias-Zajac-Sullivan Greene-Fayne Brodeur
Inactives: Barch, Kostopoulos, Josefson
Sidelined: Salvador (wrist), Hedberg (sore)
Suspended: Volchenkov (four games)
Pressed into duty: The Devils’ defensive corps has been much maligned this year — either for carrying eight instead of an extra forward or for the lack of foot speed/zone awareness/offensive impact all year long. Tonight, the Devils not only need all hands on deck, but they need those hands to not skate themselves out of position or turn the puck over at the blue line and it would be helpful if they could create some scoring chances here and there. Oh, and they have to do it with Adam Larsson and Peter Harrold in the lineup instead of Bryce Salvador and Anton Volchenkov. No pressure, guys.
Bueller, Bueller, Bueller: Does anyone wanna score on a regular basis without Ilya Kovalchuk? ANYONE? The Devils scored four goals Wednesday night and for some reason I feel like they’ll struggle to put two in the net tonight. I wouldn’t even be surprised if they get shut out. In case you haven’t noticed, the guy in the other net, Craig Anderson, is pretty good at stopping pucks against offensively potent teams. Against these Devils? Yeesh.
When all else fails: Maybe Martin Brodeur will be basically flawless and carry the Devils to an ABSOLUTE, NO-DOUBT-ABOUT-IT must-win game. It seems to be that’s what the Devils need to win a game these days, but Marty has been far from flawless over this losing streak. Yes, he’s had excellent games, but he’s also had clunkers and this isn’t a Devils team meant to withstand their goalie putting out clunkers.
(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.