You Thought That Was Bad? Top Five Worst NJ Devils Playoff Eliminations
After the New Jersey Devils were eliminated in the first round- again-, for some reason, it didn't seem as if it was as deflating as in years past. I looked at some of the past results, and there's good reason for that.
Some of the postseason eliminations have been much more excruciating and painful than the one experienced this year.
Read on at your own peril, as we're going back in time to view some not-so-friendly New Jersey Devils memories.
5. 1988 Conference Finals - Defeated by Bruins in Seven Games
The series in which Devils coach Jim Schoenfeld became infamous for telling referee Don Koharski to "eat another doughnut" after he fell during a confrontation in the arena tunnel ranks No. 5 on the Devils worst playoff eliminations.
The Devils, who were in the postseason for the first time in franchise history, weren't just happy to be there in 1988.
Defeating the Islanders and the Capitals in the first two rounds, New Jersey set up a meeting with the Boston Bruins in the Conference Finals.
The underdog Devils gave Boston a run for their money, winning Game 6 at home by the score of 6-3 to force a Game 7 in Boston. Unfortunately, the Devils would fall at the Boston Garden to the Bruins, 6-2.
While a great sign of things to come for the Devils, it was quite disappointing that the Devils couldn't test the immortal Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals and continue their Cinderella postseason.
4. 2008 Conference Quarterfinals - Defeated by Rangers in Five Games
This series will always be remembered as the birthplace of the "Sean Avery Rule," in which the NHL had to add a rule stating that a player could not screen the opposing goalie without facing the play in front of him.
For now, it's remembered as the first of three straight first-round exits for the New Jersey Devils.
The Devils had trouble with the Rangers in the regular season, going 1-4-3 against them in eight meetings, with the only victory coming on the final day of the regular season via the shootout.
That trouble continued in the postseason, as the Devils fell rather easily to their cross-Hudson rivals in five games, which gave the Blueshirts (and their fans) some very valuable bragging rights.
Game 5 would also mark the end of the Sergei Brylin Era (yes, there was such a thing), who was a Devils' mainstay since 1995.
3. 2009 Conference Quarterfinals - Defeated by Hurricanes in Seven Games
This wound stings the most right now, but only because it is one of the more recent ones.
The Devils faced the wrath of the "Cardiac Canes" more than once in this classic playoff series. In Game 2, Tim Gleason scored the overtime winner to tie up the series.
In Game 4, after the Devils had climbed out of a 3-0 hole, a shot from Dennis Seidenberg deflected off Jussi Jokinen's skate and into the net with 0.2 seconds remaining in the third period to give the Hurricanes a 4-3 victory, and tying up the series again at two games a piece.
The terror was just beginning.
With a 3-2 lead in Game 7 with under a minute and a half left, the Devils surrendered goals to Jussi Jokinen and Eric Staal within 50 seconds of eachother..
And all of a sudden, the Devils season was over. Not the all-time worst elimination for the Devils, (as the next two slides will remind you) but today it stings the most because it's the most recent, and certainly the most unforeseen.
2. 1994 Conference Finals - Defeated by Rangers in Seven Games
"Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!"
Not exactly music to Devils fans' ears.
The Devils had everything going their way going into Game 6. They had a 3-2 series lead, and Game 6 was at Brendan Byrne Arena. Then Mark Messier made his guarantee, scored a natural hat trick, and all of that momentum was taken away.
In Game 7, the Devils would force overtime when Valeri Zelepukin was able to poke one past Mike Richter with 7.7 seconds remaining in the third period.
In overtime, Stephane Matteau was born into immortality with his wraparound goal to send the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals, which they would eventually go on to win.
This classic series would cement the rivalry between the Rangers and the Devils that still lives on today, and would begin an era of Devils greatness.
Unfortunately, the era began rather painfully, as the Devils were a goal away from their first-ever Stanley Cup final.
1. 2001 Stanley Cup Finals - Defeated by Avalanche in Seven Games
The Devils have gone to the Stanley Cup Finals four times. This is the only one they've lost, and that's why it ranks No. 1 as the worst elimination in New Jersey Devils' playoff history.
The Devils were set up much like in 1994 against the Rangers: a 3-2 series lead, and Game 6 at home. But goaltender Patrick Roy played like the all-time great he is, shutting out the Devils 4-0 on Continental Airlines Arena ice.
This would send the Stanley Cup Finals to Game 7 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, where Roy was brilliant again, leading the Avalanche to a 3-1 victory, which would be the best retirement gift Ray Bourque could ever ask for.
If you ask Devils fans, this one hurts the deepest out of the postseason eliminations because the Cup, which is what these guys play for these fans root their team towards all season, was just one win away with two opportunities, and the Devils couldn't win either game.
A lost opportunity, to say the very least.