Who: New Jersey Devils at New York Rangers
When: 3:00 p.m. ET
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York
Media: TV - NBC; (Channel listings); Radio – Bloomberg (1130 AM)
Stats & Notes (via Devils PR)
- The Devils enter tonight’s game 15-11-3 in their previous 29 season-closing games. The team is 7-0-1 in its past seven season-closers, and has not lost since April 4, 2004 vs. Boston (3-1). New Jersey is closing a season on the road for the first time since April 18, 2006 at Montreal (4-3 win).
- New Jersey closed-out the home portion of its 2012-13 schedule Thursday with a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh. The Devils are now 19-8-3 in their previous 30 home finales. New Jersey is 7-0-1 in its last seven home-closers (last loss, April 4, 2004 vs. Boston, 3-1).
- The Devils finished with a 13-9-2=28pts mark at Prudential Center.
- New Jersey finished with a season-high (tie) three consecutive home victories.
- Thursday vs. Pittsburgh, the Devils improved to 5-17-6 on the year when allowing the first goal. New Jersey is 14-1-4 when scoring first this season.
- Johan Hedberg (16 saves) earned the win Thursday in his first start since March 19 vs. the New York Rangers. He is expected to start this afternoon, as well.
- Ilya Kovalchuk scored the game-winning goal and added an assist Thursday and now has points in three straight games (1g-3a-4pts). He is one assist shy of the 400-mark in his NHL career.
- David Clarkson scored his team-leading 15th goal of the season Thursday. It was his sixth on the power play, which also leads New Jersey.
Inactives: Barch, Bernier, Ponikarovsky, Urbom, D’Agostini, Gelinas, Pesonen, Sislo
Sidelined: Salvador (wrist), Fayne (nagging injury)
The End: Today is New Jersey’s 48th and final game of 2013. New Jersey’s won four of its last five games and, though it won’t make the playoffs, nor will it be able to keep the Rangers out of the playoffs, the Devils can resign New York to the East’s No. 8 seed if they can win in regulation.
The Rangers will clinch at least the No. 7 seed with a point.
Moose: Hedberg will start in net in Saturday afternoon’s game at Madison Square Garden. The 40-year-old goalie stopped 16 shots in Thursday night’s win over Pittsburgh and is 0-1 against the Rangers this year.
On the flipside, Martin Brodeur will not start on Saturday, sitting out his first game at MSG while healthy since 1993. Apparently it was Brodeur’s call.
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 25…
1993- Claude Lemieux scores two goals, and Chris Terreri stopped 30 of 31 shots as New Jersey staved off elimination with a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Patrick Division semifinals at Brendan Byrne Arena. The Devils lost 5-3 in game five and were eliminated by the Pens.
1994- Lemieux posts a four-point game, and John MacLean pots two goals as New Jersey beats the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 in game five of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at the Meadowlands.
Johan Hedberg is starting in goal, the Devils don’t have anything to play for, so why not give a guy like defenseman Eric Gelinas a shot Thursday when Pittsburgh comes calling? Alexander Urbom made his season debut on Tuesday night against Montreal and did OK.
If Gelinas — who the Devils are awfully high on — wants to see what the NHL is really like, why not play him against an injury-riddled Penguins team with nothing to play for.
Now, if that Crosby guy returns, I might alter that opinion. But, give the kid– who will likely get the chance to make the team in camp next year– a shot. What’s the worst that can happen?
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
The Toronto Maple Leafs, who seemingly doomed the Devils’ playoff hopes just three days ago, have renewed life into New Jersey’s postseason chances.
The Leafs’ 4-3 regulation win over the Rangers at Air Canada Centre kept New Jersey within two points of both seventh and eighth in the East with only 18 regular-season days remaining.
With New Jersey idle again tonight, the team and fans can root for the Flyers and Lightning. Philadelphia, still clinging to faint-playoff life, will be on Long Island for a date with the Isles. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, will try to deal the reeling Senators their fifth-straight loss.
Washington, not pictured, leads Winnipeg by only two points for the Southeast Division lead. Both are in action tonight, with the Capitals in Montreal. The Jets will host the Sabres tonight at 8 p.m. in a key affair for both teams.
A Montreal win, coupled with a Pittsburgh loss in Carolina, will leave Les Habitantes just one point back of the Pens for the East’s No. 1 seed.
Here are tonight’s Eastern Conference games. All times are p.m. and eastern:
Philadelphia at N.Y. Islanders, 7
Pittsburgh at Carolina, 7
Washington at Montreal, 7:30
Ottawa at Tampa Bay, 7:30
Buffalo at Winnipeg, 8
There are a few new names in the standings today.
The Devils also find themselves in an unfamiliar position: outside the East’s top eight.
Five straight losses, two of which came in regulation, coupled with the Islanders’ sudden hot streak, have left New Jersey on the outside looking into the playoff party.
The Devils are hardly alone in their misery. The Winnipeg Jets, who have lost seven of 10 in regulation, have dropped out of the Southeast Division lead with only nine games left. The Jets and Washington Capitals are tied for first.
Meanwhile, the Flyers are lurking just two points behind the Devils and Rangers for eighth.
Friday may be a light night for games, but the Rangers will have an opportunity to break the tie with New Jersey with a point or jump the Islanders with a win. New York is in Pittsburgh to meet the suddenly-cold Penguins.
The Senators, not pictured but tied with the Maple Leafs for fifth, can break that tie with a win or overtime loss in Buffalo.
The full Eastern Conference schedule for Friday:
N.Y. Rangers at Pittsburgh, 7
Ottawa at Buffalo, 7
Thanks to tiebreakers, the Devils are still in the No. 7 spot, but the Islanders and Rangers are catching up fast.
The Caps, keyed by Alexander Ovechkin’s three-point game, crept to within three points of the eighth spot, and are only two points back of No. 3 Winnipeg for the Southeast Division lead.
Carolina still has one game in hand on the Caps — two on the Jets — and are only four points behind Winnipeg.
Another huge night comes tonight, starting with the Rangers and Penguins. New York, with a win, would create a three-way tie for eighth.
The Penguins, who had their 15-game win streak snapped Tuesday, will inch closer to the postseason with a win.
The Flyers, not pictured but six points back of New Jersey and the Isles, will host Montreal in a game they need. Philadelphia has two games in hand on the eighth-placed Islanders.
The Canadiens, with a win and Pittsburgh loss, will move to within three points of the Pens for No. 1 in the East.
The full slate of Eastern Conference games:
Pittsburgh at N.Y. Rangers, 7
Montreal at Philadelphia, 7:30
Look at those standings.
With the Devils’ 5-4 shootout loss to Tampa Bay, there are now seven teams within four points of eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings.
It makes for a thrilling final three-and-a-half weeks left of this season.
The Islanders play in Pittsburgh this afternoon hoping to stymie the Penguins’ 14-game win streak.
Carolina and Winnipeg will meet at 3 p.m. in Winnipeg, with the Hurricanes just six points behind the first-place Jets.
The Devils, whose loss in Tampa still earned them point No. 38, will meet the 15th-placed Florida Panthers at 7:30 p.m. in Sunrise. The Devils hold that three-point lead for the seventh spot but are only three points out of ninth.
Buffalo and Washington, which both need wins, will square off– with the loser being in big trouble. The winner could be just two points out of that eighth spot.
The inconsistent Rangers cling to that eighth spot but will be in Montreal to meet the Canadiens at 7 p.m.
As we look up at seeding, the Maple Leafs will trek east to Ottawa to meet the Senators. Toronto trails Ottawa by just two points for fifth place. The Senators, meanwhile, trail fourth-placed Boston by only two points. The Bruins are in Philadelphia this afternoon.
Here’s the full Eastern Conference schedule for Saturday:
N.Y. Islanders at Pittsburgh, 1
Boston at Philadelphia, 1
Carolina at Winnipeg, 3
Washington at Buffalo, 7
N.Y. Rangers at Montreal, 7
Toronto at Ottawa, 7
DEVILS at Panthers, 7:30
- Bryce Salvador, Alex Ponikarovsky and Stephen Gionta are all likely to play tonight in the Devils’ game at Tampa Bay, according to Rich Chere (NJ.com)
- Though the Pittsburgh Penguins look loaded, the Devils believe chemistry is key (NorthJersey.com)
- While the Pens have made a splash, it appears as if Lou Lamoriello is more interested in ‘adding pieces‘ this trade deadline (ProHockeyTalk).