For the second time in three years, the New Jersey Devils are out of the postseason. With a disappointing 4-1 loss to rival New York Rangers that eliminate them from playoff contention, the Devils ended their up-and-down season on an immense down. With last night’s loss, the Devils are 2-10 in their last twelve games (that stretch included a ten-game losing streak) and they missed star Ilya Kovalchuk for ten of those twelve games.
Although the Devils were subject to a couple of highly questionable calls versus the Rangers last night, the bottom line is that they did not show the effort needed to score goals and pick up the win. The Devils’ only goal came from Andrei Loktionov with 6:30 remaining in regulation.
Heading into the game, the Devils had an 11-2-3 record when Ilya Kovalchuk was in the lineup and Martin Brodeur started, but the Rangers scored 34 seconds into the game on a Ryan Callahan goal, and it was Derek Stepan with the eventual game winner with 8 minutes remaining in the first period. Callahan later put the game away with his second goal of the night to make it 4-0, before Loktionov scored on a goal assisted by Kovalchuk and Peter Harrold. Taylor Pyatt also scored for the Rangers.
Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers swatted away 28 shots, and was able to stifle a Devils offense that had scored six goals in their most recent win (April 20 vs. Florida) at the Prudential Center. The quiet offense was nothing new for Jersey’s team; they averaged a mere 1.6 goals for during their losing skid and have scored only 2.8 goals on the season, which ranks as 28th best out of 30 teams in the NHL.
With the 2013 season mathematically over for the Devils, practically only two things remain for the Devils: busting other team’s playoff opportunities (NJD plays the Rangers in the final game) and preparing for next season. Some fans have said that GM Lou Lamoriello needs to consider firing Head Coach Pete DeBoer, and one fan even believed that Lou himself should go.
While I disagree with both proclamations, I do believe that the Devils need to make moves this offseason. They will need to decide on whether they will resign UFAs David Clarkson, Patrick Elias, Dainius Zuburus, Alexi Ponikarovsky, and Marek Zidlicky. Plus, they have restricted free agents Matt D’Agostini, Adam Henrique, Andrei Loktionov, and Jacob Josefson to make decisions on. I also believe they need to spend this offseason trying to fill the offensive void Zach Parise left last offseason, whether it is from draft, trade, or free agency.
Nonetheless, there is the one unequivocal truth: this offseason will be anything but dormant.