NHL Playoffs 2012: New Jersey Devils' Sykora and Elias Must Rediscover Chemistry

Peter MillsContributor IIIApril 13, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 16: (L-R) Patrik Elias #26  and Petr Sykora #15 of the New Jersey Devils return to the bench after a third period goal by Elias against the Dallas Stars at the Prudential Center on December 16, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Stars 6-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It's been a long time since Petr Sykora and Patrik Elias played on the same team in the playoffs. Just about a decade, actually. It was the 2002 postseason, the Devils were in the first round and embarrassingly enough, they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in six games.

In order to get a larger picture, let's look at the two seasons before that as well—a period when Sykora and Elias instilled fear in enemies.

Regular Season Playoffs
Patrik Elias 1999-00:  35 goals, 37 assists seven goals, 13 assists


40 goals, 56 assists nine goals, 14 assists
  2001-02 29 goals, 32 assists two goals, four assists
  2011-12 26 goals, 52 assists  
Petr Sykora 1999-00 25 goals, 43 assists nine goals, eight assists
  2000-01 35 goals, 46 assists 10 goals, 12 assists
  2001-02 21 goals, 27 assists one assist
  2011-12 21 goals, 23 assists  

During those three seasons, playing on the same line from 2000 to 2002, the duo averaged a combined 142 points per season. They also combined for 91 playoff points during that time.

Now fast-forward 10 years. First of all, the players are 10 years older. The players that contributed the stats listed above were in the prime of their respective careers, and this year's Sykora and Elias are not.

But then again, Elias had an impressive 78 points this season, while Sykora contributed 44. The 122 combined points is less than what they used to average, but not by that much—just 10 points each.

The Devils of the early 2000s were a very different team. The 2012 Devils don't have Scotts Stevens and Niedermayer on defense. They don't have Jason Arnott centering them, and they don't have Alex Mogilny and Scott Gomez backing them up.

However, they do have Kovalchuk and Parise backing them up. And a plethora of good options of who could center the two, starting with Adam Henrique.

Perhaps it's just a pipe dream for me to think Elias and Sykora could take over like they used to, but these two players had a chemistry that you don't see very often in hockey.

They've both won and know what it takes to win, and they're both on the Devils because they want to be here. Elias showed this season that he can still be a dangerous offensive threat. Sykora wasn't quite as good as he used to be, but he still knows how to play. There's no reason to think the two couldn't make a dangerous pair, even now.

Elias and Sykora won't be able to wear down teams like they used to, but again, they don't need to. We have other offensive stars for that. But if Elias and Sykora could just bring some of that nice calming consistency to the Devils' postseason production, it could make the Devils a much more dangerous team.