In what had been a foregone conclusion for months, the New York
Islanders were eliminated from playoff contention the last time
they took the ice.
The New Jersey Devils look like they’ll be joining them.
A nine-week hot streak gave the Devils a surprising chance to
make the postseason, but now-slumping New Jersey has little hope
left of securing a postseason berth as it hosts the Islanders on
The Devils (34-36-5) managed to move within six points of the
final Eastern Conference playoff spot March 15 with an incredible
23-3-2 run. New Jersey had been 27 points out of eighth place Jan.
8, but the Devils’ poor play throughout the first half meant they
couldn’t afford to go into a slide.
They’ve done just that in the last six games, going 1-4-1 to
drop to the brink of elimination.
“The last five or six games has put us into a big uphill battle,
again,” forward Patrik Elias said after a 2-0 loss to Buffalo on
New Jersey’s playoff push was aided by three games against the
Islanders (29-35-12) since the middle of January. The Devils won
all of them, scoring at least three goals in each contest.
They haven’t been nearly as prolific offensively of late.
New Jersey, which last missed the postseason in 1996, has been
shut out in its last two games and three times in the previous
five. The Devils have gone 173 minutes, 55 seconds without a goal
and have managed two goals in their last five losses.
“Right now, we’re obviously having a tough time scoring, and
you’re not going to win a lot of hockey games that way,” Elias
With Buffalo’s win over New Jersey on Saturday and the
Islanders’ 4-1 loss to Philadelphia, New York was eliminated from
postseason contention for the fourth straight year and fifth time
in six seasons.
Missing the playoffs wasn’t much of a surprise for the
Islanders, who opened the season 5-18-5 and were 20 points below
the postseason cutoff at the end of January.
“We’ve got a few games left and we’re going to play hard and see
what happens,” coach Jack Capuano said.
Like the Devils, the Islanders are sputtering on offense,
scoring once in each of the last two games. New York scored two
goals each time in losing its last three to New Jersey after
outscoring the Devils 7-1 in winning the first two meetings of the
“These last six games are still important,” said Rick DiPietro,
who stopped 18 shots Saturday in making his second start after
missing 20 games with broken facial bones. “It’s important we keep
playing and getting better. You just want to fast forward to
October with everyone healthy.”
DiPietro has been in net for only one game of the season series
with New Jersey, stopping 29 shots in a 2-0 win Nov. 26. He has
gone 6-2-0 with a 1.49 goals-against average and three shutouts in
his last eight matchups with the Devils.
Martin Brodeur, who has posted a 1.65 GAA and two shutouts while
starting every game of his team’s six-game slump, has recorded a
1.92 GAA in winning his last three starts against the