Saturday, March 26, 2011

N.J. DEVILS ~ Flame Out

The Epic Clash
New Jersey Devils vs. Buffalo Sabres

New Jersey Devils  0
Buffalo Sabres  2

New Jersey Devils:  PostCards from Hell. 

*After an inspired run, the Devils had ZEROES left in the end.

A bedeviling start to the season can now officially be classified as ruinous.  The Devils' atrocious start cost their Coach his job; it cost them their season; and it cost them a spot in the playoffs for the first time in...uh, a very long time.  This is not the traditional way to be talking about the Devils in late March.  In the Devils' case, this is an ironic blasphemy.  They made things very hot for the Eastern Conference with furious play beginning with the New Year.  And they continued their Hellish play through the early portion of this month.  But lately, the Devils have slipped mightily losing four of their last five as they headed into tonight.

Tonight's game against Buffalo was supposed to be an Epic Clash for eighth place.  But heading into the game, the Devils trailed Buffalo by ten points with only eight left to play.  So instead, this game was more like a last flicker of hope for New Jersey and a reinforcement for Buffalo, that they are in control of their destiny and have a tightening grip on eighth place.

The Devils went down 2-0 after the first period.  They did nothing to alter their predicament in the second period.  They knew they were two goals closer to the end and that it was just a matter of time now.  With twenty minutes and a season in the balance, they took to the ice in the third period and.... completed the shut-out for Buffalo's Ryan Miller (his 5th shut-out of the season).  At the worst possible time in their incredible chase for a playoff spot, they got shut-out on back-to-back nights.  After six scoreless periods of hockey down the stretch, it is safe to say, tonight was the end.

What failed them back in October, November, and December, plagued them again over the last six games; Offensive scoring.  Take away the game against Columbus when they scored three goals, in losses to the Senators, Capitals, Bruins, Penguins, and including tonight's game against Buffalo, the Devils managed all of two goals.  And now, twelve points out of eighth place is too much to overcome.  With only seven games remaining for the Devils, it's time to put this demon to rest.

Flame out.  Hell just closed for the season.  Sorry about the bad memories.  And if all you got from this crummy trip was a postcard, then this game was the stamp telling everyone concerned to mail it in.

The second season is officially beyond reach now.  In between the what if's, what happened, and what could have been's - I guess Devil fans can talk about how Martin Brodeur increased his NHL All-Time Shut-Out record and added to his NHL All-Time Wins total.  There's that, but not much else.  It doesn't matter what team you root for; getting close sucks.  We've all felt it.

But what a run!  Give the Devil his Due.


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