The New Jersey Devils have finished the regular season with 102 points making it the 13th time in franchise history that the Devils have finished with 100 or more points. The regular season ended spectacularly for the Devils. Let’s begin with the season-high 6 win streak that ended the regular season. Next, add that this is the 14th time Martin Brodeur has reached the 30-win mark passing Patrick Roy for most 30-win seasons. Add 5 players with at least 20 goals this season. Subtract the 15 year drought that the Devils ended by winning a game against the Detroit Red Wings at the Joe Louis Arena for the first time since 11/6/1996. Finally, add the NHL post-expansion record breaking best penalty kill of 89.58%. The Devils were shorthanded 259 times and finished with only 27 power play goals against. What does all of the equal? A 102 point season and 6th place in the Eastern Conference. That didn't sound as great as I originally thought so let's try that again…The Devils finish with 102 points!
The week started off with the 3-1 win against the New York Islanders. Unfortunately, Jacob Josefson broke his wrist with an innocent collision with former Devil, Jay Pandolfo. This is quite disappointing as Josefson was finally breaking out after missing 37 games at the beginning of the season with a fractured clavicle. Josefson is said to be out 4-6 weeks and hoping the Devils advance in the playoffs, we can hopefully see him back on the ice where he can pick up right where he left off. The game also included a beautiful Travis Zajac power play goal to break the 1-1 tie in the 2nd period.The game’s highlights can be seen here.
The Devils traveled to Detroit on Thursday to try a win a game in a building that they haven’t been able to do so since 1996. That’s a long time. Want to know what has happened since 1996? Princess Diana died in a car crash, Chris Farley died, both Tupac and Biggie were murdered (ok, Tupac was “killed” and now lives in Cuba), the Monica Lewinsky scandal, a sheep was cloned and they named it Dolly, Google was founded, Napster debuts, Napster is shut down. The list obviously goes on forever but there is one more…oh right…the Devils won 2 Stanley Cups after that. Walking into the Joe Louis Arena without a win in 15 years to play a great team run by a great organization is not easy. As shown in the game highlights at the top of the article, both teams played great and the number of fantastic saves made by both goalies, Martin Brodeur and Jimmy Howard, were extraordinary. The Devils had goals by Alexi Ponikarovsky and Petr Sykora. This marked the 11th time Sykora had 20 or more goals in a season and his NHL comeback (although helped by Patrik Elias) has been welcoming. Ponikarovsky was the best trade acquisition of the season for the Devils. He has been fantastic and fits in with the team perfectly. Since we did not give up much to the Carolina Hurricanes, we received Ponikarovsky at a steal and we can only hope his production continues to improve throughout the playoffs.
The Devils played the Ottawa Senators for the season finale at the Prudential Center in a game where the game was tied at 2 until Stephen Gionta scored the game winning goal. Who?? Exactly. Stephen Gionta, the brother of former Devil Brian Gionta, was called up from the AHL due to the absence of Jacob Josefson and David Clarkson. This was Gionta’s first NHL game for this season and he scored his first NHL goal. If there was a plan that rookies should follow that taught them how to stay up in the NHL without being sent back down, it would be what Gionta did during that game. Hopefully, it was not a one-time goal and he can continue to do well. This helps the Devils become a much more stable team creating the depth necessary to make a long playoff run. Ilya Kovalchuk netted the empty-net goal to ice the game in which the Devils won 4-2. The game highlights can be seen here.
The New Jersey Devils enter the Stanley Cup Quarterfinals on Friday, April 13th where they will face the Florida Panthers.