As I sit here hunting and pecking at the keyboard, the New Jersey Devils are ready to drop the puck against the Montreal Canadiens. The score of the game is of no importance. The game does not matter. The Canadiens are firmly entrenched in fourth place and the Devils, for the second time in three years, won't be attending the playoff party. The invitation was returned to sender.
Competing in pointless games is not a scenario this organization or its fan base is accustomed to. Prior to 2013 the Devils have missed the playoffs just twice since 1990. Backed by goaltender Martin Brodeur's illustrious career, New Jersey has been a playoff mainstay. The goal and expectations under ardent general manager Lou Lamoriello are to qualify and compete for a championship every year.
Two failures in three years has never happened in the Brodeur era. Before we consider if the magic is waning, let us look back at 2013 and analyze what went awry, and how the Devils got here and not where they wanted to go.