It was a very unlikely scenario for the New Jersey Devils to make it into the playoffs this year after the enormous hole they had dug for themselves.
With a first half record of 10-29-2 and a 27-point deficit, the hurdle was just too big to climb over. After a 1-4-1 run from March 17 to March 26, it was all but official, and finally after a 3-1 loss last night to Montreal, the Devils have now officially been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. The loss ends their consecutive playoff streak at 13 years.
For players like Patrik Elias, this will be this first time in their NHL career that there will be no taste of the postseason. You have to give the team a little credit to a degree, having gone on a 23-3-2 streak over the first 28 games on the second half to make things interesting. However, it wasn't to be, and despite a few silver linings, the 2010-11 season will go down as a failure for the New Jersey Devils.
There hasn't been the success this franchise has grown accustomed to, with very little playoff success since their last Stanley Cup Championship in 2003.
You can point to the playing time and exposure some of the youngsters like Mark Fayne, Mattias Tedenby, Jacob Josefson and Nick Palmieri all received this year, and there is no doubt that the team will benefit from that in the coming years.
Still, it is a result-oriented business, and as I said earlier, this year has to go down as a failure to the Devils. As goaltender Martin Brodeur said to Tom Gulliti of the Bergen Record:
“You can’t be proud, because our goal is to make the playoffs regardless of how you get in,” Brodeur said.
“This is the first goal that you need to achieve in the regular season and we (haven’t) done that. So, right there, it’s a failure because you’ve got to go for that chance to compete for the Stanley Cup, and the first step is the playoffs and we didn’t make it, so it’s a failure of a season. So, regardless of how we came back and made it interesting, we’re not going to play when the playoffs come and that’s what we want and, at the end of the day, we needed a chance to compete for it.”
GM Lou Lamoriello and the Devils live by the old Vince Lombardi statement, "Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing."
Although it isn't expected to compete with last year's "Summer of Kovalchuk," it should still be an interesting offseason to see how Lamoriello and the Devils respond to this year's failure.
I'll do a year-end review soon and start looking at some of the questions that will need answering. For now, it's all about the utter disappointment of a year without the playoffs for the New Jersey Devils.
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