Elimination is not the end for New Jersey

For the first time since the 1995-1996 season the New Jersey Devils will not be included in the the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

GM Lou Lamoriello decided in late December to make a coaching change and brought Jacques Lemaire out of retirement to try and salvage the season. He did just that. When Lemaire took over he instilled a new sense of discipline in the team that was missing with rookie coach John Maclean. He got the team back to playing "Devils Hockey." The Devils put together a 23-3-2 run to pull within six points of the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. However, they never got any closer.

In the end it wasn't meant to be. Saturday night's 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens was just a microcosm of the the 2010-2011 season. The Devils were severely outplayed and just couldn't muster enough offense to save their season.

The reality is that the hole was just too big for New Jersey to climb out of. They ultimately paid the price for a horrendous first half that saw them go 10-29-2. For a team that couldn't score consistently through the season they held on as long as they could. Their 160 goals scored is the worst in the NHL. That's 20 goals less then the next closest team, the Edmonton Oilers. Even the return of forward Zach Parise to the line-up had little effect on the team.

But the fact of the matter is that it took until the last five games of the season for this team to be eliminated. That in it's self says a lot about the character of the organization and it's players. Devils forward and all-time leading scorer in team history, Patrick Elias had never missed the playoffs until now. This is only the second time future hall of fame goaltender Martin Brodeur will sit out of the "Quest for the Cup."

New Jersey's run of 13 consecutive playoff appearance's is actually quite extraordinary. Devils fans are really quite lucky and in a way quite spoiled. There are a lot of teams that don't put a consistent product on the ice for the fans.

Since they last missed the playoffs, the Devils have won 2 Stanley Cups, 3 conference championships and 9 division titles. The team left the swamp in East Rutherford and moved into a new state of the art deluxe facility built just for them in downtown Newark. Quite an impressive resume for a team that was once referred to by the games greatest player as a "Mickey Mouse organization."

Just to put the Devils run of consistency into perspective we have had three presidents, a NASA spacecraft landed on Mars, the International Space Station began construction, a robust economy leads to the longest prosperity in U.S. history, we cloned an animal, the internet and cellphones revolutionize communication, the robust economy crashes sending the world into a global financial crisis and recession, social networking explodes and now I have a blog!

The Devils have a bright future ahead of them. The team has a solid group of young talent lead by Mattias Tedenby and Jacob Josefson. Ilya Kovalchuk signed a deal with the Devils for life. Travis Zajac, David Clarkson and Zach Parise are approaching the prime of their careers. The Devils may be done for this season but if history repeats itself, as it so often has a tendency to do, then don't be surprised if there are another 10 plus years of winning and success from Jersey's team.


Adam Pardes's picture

Nice work, Steve. Really was quite an impressive run. They showed that the first half of this year was a fluke and that they'll make the playoffs next year.

Steve Palumbo's picture

Thanks Adam! This year more then any in recent memory made me appreciate this team and it's history of success. I can't wait until October!

George Prax's picture

I can't say that I'm upset that the Habs were the ones to officially eliminate the Devils haha. But a very impressive run indeed, Lemaire did something special here. I feel bad for Maclean, because I don;t think it was his fault, but it's going to be interesting to see what the Devils do going forward with Lemaire presumably looking at retirement again. And I don't think the Devils are out of the woods quite yet... that Kovalchuk contract is still a killer. But it definitely looks better than it did a few months ago. And you certainly have to be impressed with how they turned it around.Great stuff.

Shahab Khan's picture

but the true question is and will be - should this be the end of Martin Brodeur?

Steve Palumbo's picture

Marty looked terrible in the first half but put it together in the second. But even he admitted it was the system that helped. He knew where shots were coming from. Under Maclean the whole system was a mess and he suffered the most because of it. I think he has another year left as a starter then it's time for the Devils to transition. The dude is 38 years old.