When the final horn sounded this past Sunday at Madison Square Garden, the New Jersey Devils found themselves without a chance at making the postseason. After eliminating the New York Rangers from the Eastern Conference Finals last May, the cross-river rivals were able to avenge their loss, by eliminating Jersey’s team from playoff contention with a 4-1 victory.
The crowd at The Garden was electric all game long. The hometown crowd knew what was at stake, and once the game was over, they did not hesitate to let the Devils players and coaching staff hear it. Loud roars of “Seasons Over!” echoed the building, as the Devils skated off the ice. With a Rangers loss in Carolina tonight, and a Winnipeg Jets win against the Montreal Canadiens, the Devils have a chance to return the favor Saturday in both the Rangers and Devils season finale.
As the Rangers hope to clinch a playoff berth tonight, they need to beat a Hurricanes team that has never given New York an easy time in the past. The Devils are hoping Saturday’s game is meaningful, and want to play the role of spoiler. If the Rangers playoff chances come down to the final game of the season, New Jersey will surely treat it as a playoff elimination game.
After being eliminated from playoff contention, the Devils have continued to play for pride of both the Devils organization and entire state of New Jersey. Winning three out of their last four, the Devils want to continue their strong finish tonight, when they host the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins, in their final home game of the season. Pittsburgh, already crowned kings of the east, will once again be playing without Sidney Crosby, who is still fighting his was back from a broken jaw.
Devils goaltender Johan Hedberg will get his first start in 13 games for the New Jersey Devils. Marc-Andre Fleury will get the start for the Penguins. Young Devils defensive prospect Eric Gelinas will make his way into the lineup for his NHL debut, as he takes the roster spot of Alexander Urbom. Adam Henrique makes his way back into the lineup tonight after being a healthy scratch for the first time this season against Montreal.