New Jersey Devils playoff streak likely to end
The New Jersey Devils impressive NHL playoff streak of 13 years looks very likely to come to an end this season. For a team that has won the Stanley Cup three times after joining the league in 1982 it looks like they’re no longer competitive in today’s NHL as they sat 16 points out of a playoff spot on Dec. 16th after 30 games of the season.
The Devils’ record of the 9-19-2 for 20 points is second worst in the NHL. The only team that’s doing worse is the close-by New York Islanders with points (15) who had lost 10 in a row at one point this season. New Jersey recently lost five games in a row in regulation time, making it their worst slump 2000-2001.
The Devils would have to leapfrog over five teams to make the playoffs and that has put first-year coach John MacLean’s job in a precarious position. General manager and president Lou Lamoriello isn’t too impressed with the team’s downfall, but said there’s no point looking in the past and the team just has to concentrate on games one at a time.
Lamoriello wouldn’t comment on the status of MacLean’s job and added that this is the team and coaching staff the team has right now and these are the people that will have to improve and get them out of the current situation.
The Devils started their freefalling ways during last season’s playoffs when they were eliminated early by the Philadelphia Flyers. All star goalie Martin Brodeur was weak and many fans blame this on him being overworked during the season by playing too many games when he doesn’t need to, even though he led the league in goals against average.
The Devils tried to strengthen the team during the off season by re-signing high-scoring Ilya Kovalchuk to a 15-year contract at about $100 million. They originally tried to sign the forward to a 17-year deal but the NHL stepped in and voided it because it didn’t follow the rules of the salary cap. The club also signed defensemen Henrik Tallinder and Anton Volchenkov as free agents.
The club may be kicking themselves over the Kovalchuk contract as he’s been a complete bust. He had five foals in the team’s first 30 games after averaging 42 in his first eight NHL seasons. However, the rest of the team has been just as bad as they had a total of 53 goals in those 30 contests, the lowest in the league. Zach Parise, who managed 38 goals last year, is out with an injury until February and Travis Zajac and Jamie Langenbrunner only have three goals each.
MacLean is walking a tightrope in his first year as a head coach and it’s believed he might not be around when the season ends, especially if the club misses the playoffs for just the third time in the last 23 years.