Odds of a Devils’ Stanley Cup Win

Fans of the New Jersey Devils have had a lot to celebrate over the past few regular seasons. They’ve been one of the most dominant teams on the ice leading up the playoffs, giving the home-team faithful months of chest-painting, white-knuckled, devil-shouting opportunities.

When the Stanley Cup Playoffs roll around, however, the Devils have a nagging little habit of being a habitual one-and-done squad.

What are the odds that all changes this year? It’s still very early in the NHL season, but based on the offseason moves, the current momentum the team is carrying, and the weight of the Devils’ competition, it’s the perfect time to lay down the lines and to call things like they are.

New Jersey has an extremely talented team. With their 38-year-old lock-down, never-say-die staple goalie, Martin Brodeur, the Devils rarely have to put up big offensive numbers to win. And forward Ilya Kovalchuk was a great addition when he came along halfway through last season.

They’ve also won four of the last five Atlantic Division titles. But don’t risk it all just yet. This isn’t a casino online; we’re talking about hockey. Sure, the Devils are regular season juggernauts, but out of those four division wins, they’ve only won two playoff series and, out of five straight postseason appearances, haven’t made it past the first round in three years.

Kovalchuk couldn’t get the Devils over the hump last year. Some say the mid-season acquisition was the reason, and that things will flow more smoothly this year. But it’s hard to forget that five-game beat-down New Jersey took from the Flyers.

Overall, the Pittsburgh Penguins are favored to win the Atlantic this year, at -150, but are essentially a .500 team to date. This does leave the door open for New Jersey to knuckle-up and handle business in the regular season, surpassing their +300 odds and taking down the title again, but they have to prove it out on the ice.

To get to the Stanley Cup Finals, we’re looking at a completely different set of odds. The fact that the Devils fall short year after year has to be factored in, even if you’re approaching it through pro-Devil bias. The odds of hitting a big win playing slot online are better; New Jersey is +1500 to get to the Finals.

Nothing is outside the realm of possibility. New Jersey is a great team with a few weak runs on their schedule that could bode extremely well. However, the team has to show up during the playoffs and prove that they’re worthy of a Stanley Cup. Until then, all the odds in the world won’t help the Devils.

Thoughts from Section 209: Devils vs Penguins, March 12, 2010

OK, so we were HALF right about the Devils and the Olympic Break…. they needed time off and to get the hell home after a two-week break to come back to what we know and love (anyone else buying this or are we just glad they look like they found themselves again?)….either way you want to look at it, two big statement wins in a row over the Rangers and here the Penguins…. and as always a lot to talk about here (don’t I always?)

  • First Period:
  • – So as I was sitting there for warmups (and good to see Jen getting back to games again, FYI), I decided it would be a cool idea to send my half-sister (yes she’s a full blown Parise girl, but she’s 16 it’s ok… least we’re not fighting over Andy right??)…so I thought it would be cool to send her a few Parise pics from the blackberry… and then as I sent them… I realized…. hey, our father’s gonna pay up the ass for the photo texts…. so I sent a few more (I have years… decades…. of being a pain in the ass to father to catch up on :p)…. and I took an informal poll of my friends…. I was being 40% good brother, and 60% douchebag to my dad (but with a 100% approval rating of the douchebaggery!)
    – Also in attendance tonight with me…. Dave from DC, Tammie (I know she comes a lot… but hey she pays she cheers she gets herself there… a perfect ticket buyer!)… and my ex-fiancee #2 was with us as well, yes she’s a Penguins fan, but hey we all have flaws…. (yes an American one before you asses say it… I do… errr.. maybe did? go after and date American women in my time thank you)… and it was kinda weird to have three generations of hockey fans in my life at one game at one time (maybe generations is a bad word, but I don’t like the term “era” there…. whatever)

    – Well that was quick!

    (1 – 0, NJ!) Elias[12] (Greene, Kovalchuk) {1:43}
    Devils win the draw, greene the shot…misses the net
    ….Langs in front but to flies too fast past him, but
    there’s Elias…kick/wham score!!

    – and just as I was saying that was like the ranger game…..

    (1 – 1) Crosby[45] (Kunitz, Dupuis) {2:25}
    Unscreened shot from the faceoff dot, geesh
    that was playoff-type soft!!! Least it wasn’t 5-hole
    in overtime right?? Someone steal her gloves and stick!

    – least mb30 came back big on the next rush with a huge combo save!!
    –kinda funny moment when Malkin flubbed the puck during the pk, the kill chant politely paused waiting for him to get the puck back…heh
    – damn Fleury is giving some BIG rebounds!!
    – Andrew Greene if you hit that post again you’re sleeping on the couch mister!!! (kinda funny that the Pens came back and hit a post too but louder!)
    – wow, they give beer away at Nashville?? Hot shit!!!
    – and go figure the one night I wanna chat with the people I’m with, 209′s in the mood to be loud, go figure!

  • Second Period:
  • – Mottau with a HUGE tie up of the stick on the spinning penguin in front, three years in and he’s getting it :p
    – not much flow in the second but they ACTUALLY call Craig Adams for a MAJOR for hit from behind!! (Crap shoulda been Cooke)
    And holy shit I want those five minutes of life back and now!!
    ** Barry Meikle: As soon as that 5 was announced, I didn’t know whether to be happy or prepare for embarrassment.
    Lord Krang that’s five minutes of my life i’ll never get back
    (I kinda saw it coming we only have enough forwards to pump out 1 3/4 lines of power play talent after all)
    – wow funny we get better action, on the two minute pp, then the five?!?!?
    – gee Malkin falls down, the devils had a major, something was called….amazing how that happens ain’t it??
    – Kovy got a penalty shit and it was so bad my phone crashed…..fail and end of period!
    ** Lord Krang Andy Greene would’ve scored on that penalty shot!
    (she’s right :p)
    – This period kinda sucked, mostly because the Devils were on the power play HALF of it, and we know how that goes!

  • Third Period:
  • – I guess rob niedermommy is pals with Mark Savard?? That was a pathetic attempt at a fight with Matt Cooke and I only justify it by him fighting for Savard’s honor!
    – I guess Andy got threatened with one of my ex’s sitting with me :-)

    (2 – 1, Devils!) Greene[6] (Kovalchuk, Salvador) {2:06}
    Kovy with a big bomb, as I was giving him the “Lord Krang treatment”
    (basically yelling no think, you play), Fluery the stop but andy with the
    yummy rebound and andy sleeps where andy wants tonight!!!

    ** Barry Meikle: My Pens buddy Sam is gonna get a faceful of Greene jersey at practice on Saturday if this stands up!
    – Langenbrunner being all Stevens-ish shoving that Kunitz through that open bench door!!! Just another piece of the INTENSITY of ten cities in that arena tonight!
    ** Josh Burnett: Chico gets the epic win of the evening, comparing Langs trip to the Pens bench to tag team wrestling, when you bring the guy to your corner and both people wail on him.
    – wow Fleury opens the whine-o-meter!

    (3 – 1) Kovalchuk[35] (Zubrus, Zajac) {9:59}
    Kovy cuts in and just unloads a BOMB with Zajac
    cutting in front, just enough to distract him
    and Fleury goes whining like his captain….
    he got owned sir!! (I guess I’d be pissed off
    of someone swatted my glove when I went to
    make a save, but I’d be man enough to not let my
    glove be moved AND I’d have punched him in the head!)

    — hhahahaha, the candy guy almost did a rail slide back down the section!
    – Jesus Kovy damn near killed himself trying to one time that bombed shot that was tipped (good to see he’s settling down in jersey finally)
    – nice touch to try to let Kovy get the hat on the empty net but the win works too!!
    – and some post-game comments:
    ** Deanna Tortorello Over: Andy gets first star and you interview Marty? C’mon, Fishface!
    Josh Burnett: Andy Greene is FAR too awesome to be near the geezer. Stan would drop dead of a heart attack being anywhere near the aura of Andy Greene.
    Me: Guess Andy didn’t wanna sleep on the couch after all… awwww :)

    Thoughts from Section 209: Devils vs Penguins: 12/30/2009

    Wow…. the last recap of 2009….(and sadly the end of the “REALLY??? …. in 2009???” comeback…. *sigh* we’ll miss you, but not the jean shorts that inspired them…..)….and what better way to end a decade, then a game like THIS??? Playoff crowd, semi-playoff atmosphere….playoff intensity on the ice… damn it gets ya excited for April doesn’t it??? And oh yeah.. ANOTHER SHUTOUT for those smug douche Pitt announcers to call right… ahhh it’s all good!!!!!

    the Good:
    – Before I start here (and yes this counts as good)… my friend Rob runs a charity hockey tournament in Woodbridge, NJ.. usually about every six months… and game 1 was today (my team won, and yes this is half the reason I am mentioning it)… and it is a good cause… so if you’re not doing anything tomorrow about 12:30… stop by… heckle… boo… cheer… just DONATE and do whatever the hell ya want… there’s a chance our little Winter Classic, may have some SNOW late in the 3rd Period http://www.fordscup.com/ has all the information…. come see me chase the all-time wins record (and try to lower the lowest GAA in the event’s history.. and pad my goalie scoring stats!)
    – NO ANDREW PETERS!!! Instead of skating laps he should be made to tie jerseys down until his hands bleed!!!!! At least he admitted his own idiocy tonight!!!
    – it’s funny, Jacques Lemaire bags on Nick Bergfors… and when he does, the fan base FREAKS OUT in fear that Lemaire is gonna “Brent Sutter” the kid… and well NO… there’s no exercise bikes involved, and Lemaire has the faith in his teachings to LET his rookies get REAL ICE TIME… and you know.. he like does that thing called COACHING and GETS THE MOST FROM HIS PLAYERS… and every time he bags on Bergofrs, the kid ANSWERS AND PERFORMS… so again, get off Jacques’ nuts… he shits more about hockey then you know in your little life!! (and 20 minutes of ice time, and he was awesome with Zajac and Parise)
    – mb30.. holy shit were you GOOD tonight…. as the game got going more… SO DID YOU… and I bag on you… but this one was most credit worthy (and so was the slash at Rupp’s ankles!!), I just hope this playoff-like effort shows up for a long playoff run, one more time… (please… I might even use your name again!)
    – ONE minor penalty taken and it was at the end of the game… that’s a good thing and discipline is HUGE when you play a team that can kill you on the pp like they can (I don’t care what their stats are I do NOT want to be the team that wakes them up and fixes them!)
    – Oh Roderick Pelley… how we have a love/hate with you (and ok it’s hilarious to bag on Rob who hates him because he has Sesitito-envy)…. I was going to comment on him tonight… but our Lordship of Krang NAILED this one… so I let her speak:
    Poor Pelley… i know he sucks, but he tries so hard and his heart is in the right place. AND he know how to dress himself! Zharky and Clarky have to go SOMEWHERE, and do you want Pelley and Pandolfo on the ice at the same time? hey, i say just enjoy the amusement from the line. Pelley gets a little more practice at center (and with some good players to support him), and it’s not like that’ll be a line for very long anyway! we may never see it again, in fact! (we kinda put this in the GOOD section so he doesn’t GET PIST at us and board us!)

    the Bad:
    – well I gotta say it… no matter how retarded good Brent Johnson was (and he WAS tonight)…. you HAVE to get more then one fluke goal past him in the game… that’s a kinda worrisome sight….
    – Patrik Elias… is he hurt??? He seems slow out there…. is something else wrong?? He DID get 17 minutes tonight… but no shots and he just looked slow and kinda dead out there… something to be worried about… Elias and Rolston are gonna be needed to take the scoring pressure off the top line when the big Silver Cup Tournament begins in April….
    – the power play stunk and ANOTHER 5 on 3 was wasted (you know the league knows your pp sucks when they put Cyndy Crosby in the damn box to put you up 5 on 3 and let the Golden Brat cry in the box for 2:00)
    – *sigh* Clarkson got hurt again dammit…..Devils right wing David Clarkson reinjured his fractured right leg in tonight’s 2-0 over Pittsburgh and did not accompany the team to Chicago for Thursday’s game, a source said. Instead, Clarkson is to have his leg examined again by team doctors Thursday in New Jersey. Tonight’s game was just his second game back after missing 13 contests with a fractured right fibula. He was injured initially when he blocked a shot by Boston’s Zdeno Chara on Nov. 27.

    the Funny:
    – Well I had a unique group with me tonight… her Lordship as she does for all Wednesday Games….. Returning again “cover your eyes so Bergfors and Parise can score” aka Tasha (and man it was fun to yell all game long… GO TO THE BATHROOM, we need a Bergfors goal… yes I know he scored tonight… but someone was stuck on the escalator and never saw the puck hit the net… hell I had the row behind her cheering for it :)… and my 3rd… one of the people who’s known me the longest…holy shit was there in 1995 when the old CRASHER Line took off…. yeup… ex-fiancee #2 (and to be honest each and every one of you over her a debt of gratitude for getting me the HELL away from the first one :p)… and again she deserves credit…for an opposing team fan she got NO SHIT from the section….I guess a little coach purse incident kinda squashed that…..but still it’s kinda odd to hear the Beyonce song “single girls”… when you’re sitting with a girl you DID put a ring on it with :p
    – Now for a little facebook, stream of conscious conversation……
    ** Me: Clarkaround sighting!!!
    ** Kristyn Holleran: how many times has the Clarkaround actually worked lol
    ** Me: How many goals does Clarkson have? Divide by two for toe-drags!
    ** Kristyn Holleran: i really dislike mike rupp
    ** Me: I like rupp, now that he’s in the other jersey!
    ** Chris McCabe: I like Rupp simply because he can score a hat trick against the Rangers….
    ** Kristyn Holleran: i’m just bitter than he was useless with us and is now 4th in the NHLfor shot % lol
    ** Me: Playing with 87 and 71 will do that :p
    ** Barry Meikle: Of course by useless you mean, scored the 2003 Cup winning goal. Good enough for me.
    ** Me: Dude if ya wanna be a one game wonder
    THAT was the game of choice!
    – and I’d be a fool to leave out Pete serenading Clutch to some creepy kinda love song (and even his voice failed him in the try), and not to mention the near-riot cause Pete stepped on a $900 coach-bag (allegedly)… one thing I learned this year… if you’re dumb and whipped enough to buy a girl THAT kinda stupid expensive gift… well then you better be all ready to pump yer fist and go all Guido Beach to defend that bag (really, you coulda had season tickets for THAT much)… but really… treat it like an autographed jersey of your favorite player… DON’T bring it to the hockey game… really, you’re just asking for some idiot to spill beer on it (and then you get stuck in the middle of the fight… and oi vey… whatta mess!!)

    Man it was a good, but scattered night… and one more time… CLOSE YOUR EYES TASHA WE NEED A GOAL!!! (some people are just NOT team players I tell ya :p)… fun times… fun times… Everyone have a GREAT and smart New Year!! Back at you with a month in Review probably on Saturday!!!!

    Wait, the Sabres are good?

    So who’d have thought that this stretch of games against the Rangers, Penguins, and Sabres would prove to be an early-season measuring stick?  I mean, Penguins, of course.  Rangers & Penguins?  Okay, maybe.  But where the HELL did the Sabres come from?

    The Sabres sit at 6-1-1 coming into tonight’s game at The Rock.  This means that the Devils last three opponents will have had a total of FIVE combined losses on the season before the Devils got their hands on ‘em.

    The win over the Penguins Saturday night was costly, however.  As you may know by now, both Paul Martin and Jay Pandolfo will be out 4-6 weeks due to seperate arm owies.  While Super Jay has been having a great year so far, he’s somewhat replacable in the lineup (Matt Halischuk probably gets regular playing time now).  But Paul Martin?  His loss could suck.  It could suck a lot.

    I mean, because Paul Martin’s out, the Devils called up Cory Murphy.  THAT’S how much the loss of Martin sucks.  Granted, Murph was called up as a seventh defenseman, and won’t be in the lineup tonight, but still.  Our D-corps is pretty banged up in the early going, with Mike Mottau coming back from injury and Colin White and Bryce Salvador both puck magnets.  Factor in Johnny Oduya being less amazing than he has been, and our defense is basically Andy Greene and a buncha scrubs.  Lucky for us, Andy Greene = Wins.

    The Devils are 5-0 on the road, which kind of sucks because tonight’s a home game.  In the friendly confines of Newark, New Jersey, the team is 1-3.  And the one win came against a surprisingly bad Carolina team.  That’s…not so good.  A win tonight, however, and all early-season home struggles are forgiven.

    Come back here post-game for a Scott Mackie-style post-game recap!  Also, I’m not going to PROMISE it, but there’s gonna be a LiveCap coming eventually.  I haven’t forgotten, I just tend to be in class during the games.  I’ll set one up soon and let you, the loyal 2MA reader, know well in advance.  It’ll be a little party, it will!

    Mmmm, Victory

    Tastes good, don’t it?

    That’s a win, kiddies.  That’s a WIN.  Walk into the building of the defending Stanley Cup champions and deliver a good old crotch-stomping to the tune of a 4-1 victory.  Beautiful.

    (Side note:  Does anyone else get the feeling that Marty would be pushing 200 shutouts if Chico wasn’t one of our announcers?)

    Anyhoo.  Stellar game.  The Devils are now 5-0 on the road (yet 1-3 at home.  Gotta fix that.).  The Penguins came in riding a SEVEN game win streak, and the win was only their second loss on the year.  The first was to the Coyotes.  True story.

    Let’s discuss goal scoring for a moment:  Mark Fraser not only notches his first NHL goal, but also the first goal by a Devils defenseman all year.  Bergfors goes from slumping to a hot stick in two games, potting his second in as many games.  Zajac and Parise hook up for a goal and assist each, clearly trying to prove to Lemaire that BFFs on the same line should never be broken up.

    The only downsides to this game:  Both Jay Pandolfo and Paul Martin go down with unspecified injuries.  And some might argue the former may not be much of a downside (sorry Super Jay).

    Edit 10:47 PM: Tom Gulitti reports that Paul Martin may have a broken forearm and that Jay Pandolfo’s right shoulder popped from the socket on a hit from behind by Mike Rupp.  Both could potentially be lost for awhile.  That could suck.

    So the Devils come home to rest and relax for a few days before taking on the Sabres at The Rock on Wednesday.  A good game to head home to.

    THROWBACK NIGHT!

    Boys and girls, a day I never expected to come with Louie Lams in charge is, in fact, coming. I’m a little surprised that I get to type these words, but here goes:

    On one day only – March 17th, 2010 – the New Jersey Devils will don their old red, white, and green jerseys for the game that night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Yeah, you read that right. Christmas Tree jerseys on St. Patrick’s Day!

    I already had this date circled on my calendar because of the glorious time had last season for the St. Patty’s home game, but now, this game is a definite must. It’s the closest the Devils have ever or possibly will ever come to donning a third jersey.

    The next question, of course: Will there be red, white, and green jerseys sold in the upcoming season? That day only? Not at all?

    Regardless, I think it’s safe to say St. Patrick’s Day will be a memorable day for Devils fans again this season.

    DEVILS MAKE A SIGNING!!!!!!!!!

    Today the Devils signed former draft pick Ilkka Pikkarainen.

    Exciting, right?

    The 28-year-old forward spent the last three seasons in Finland, posting 24 goals and 13 assists for 37 points in 54 games last year. He also racked up 149 penalty minutes.

    The 220 pound Pikkarainen should add a physical edge to the Devils roster, ‘specially after losing the amazing all-star Bobby Holik to retirement and the wonderfully mediocre Mike Rupp to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Orrrrr, could it be possible that the Finn was signed to potentially entice another European player to the join Black ‘n Red?

    Saku, I’m talkin’ to you.

    …I know, I know. One can dream, right?

    Oh, yeah, for the sake of reporting, Pikka was the 218th pick in the 2002 Entry Draft for New Jersey.

    Fancy.

    I will not congratulate the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Is it drafty in here?

    Oh, it’s almost July. Never mind. Just a weak Entry Draft joke huh. My apologies.

    So, it’s that time of year again. The future of the NHL will be determined by the calls of crusty general managers, granting the dreams and wishes of  scrawny framed, baby faced boys far and wide.

    How I love the Draft.

    Nothing too spectacular going on right now. Mr. John Tavares ended up going first overall to the New York Islanders, while picks two and three saw Victor Hedman and Matt Duchene go to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche, respectively.

    Tavares, I’m sorry.

    In other news, Chris Pronger was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for the Flyers’ entire roster plus seven hundred draft picks. Fancy.

    Okay, okay, so I’m a little weak in the knees merely thinking about Pronger in the same division as Black ‘n Red, but come on — two firsts, a (conditional) third, Luca Sbisa, AND Joffrey Lupul? Highway robbery I say!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And yes, I did just use an obscene amount of exclamation points.

    So maybe I’m trying to defer my sheer fear in the solidity of Philadelphia’s 09-10 defense by mocking the deal, but WHATEVER. That’s a lot for a defender that will only play, what, a couple more seasons?

    Yeah, I know. The Flyers are going to be a good team next year, ‘specially with Pronger’s elbows flying at Devils forwards left and right. Sigh.

    Alas, we have a little way before pick number twenty-three greets us. Barring any last minute moves, Lou Lamoriello is expected to pick a skilled center to usher in a new era of awesomeness in Newark.

    Check back for any late breaking news involving the 2009 Draft here at 2MA!

    EDIT 8:02 PM: The Islanders are serious. Snow ‘n co just traded, like, 8393 of their picks for Columbus’s #16 pick. Wow. Serious, serious stuff here. Serious.

    EDIT 8:52 PM: Long Island just got even more serious. Pick #12 goes to the Isles while Minnesota gets, uh, a bunch of picks. They won’t have any picks left at this rate!

    EDIT 9:36 PM: Quebec native Louiiiiiiis Leblanc to the Montreal Canadiens. How fitting. Who the heck goes to Harvard for an education anyway? …not that I’m jealous or anything. Whatever. Leave me alone!

    EDIT 9:48 PM: Calgary up to pick at 20 but there is word of a trade. Likely a giveaway to the Devils for the whole Brent Sutter debacle. Let’s see.

    EDIT 9:50 PM: Yup! Calgary gives pick #20 to New Jersey in exchange for picks 23 and 84.

    EDIT 9:58 PM: Another trade to report: Anaheim sends pick 21 to Columbus for picks 26 and 37.

    Game 5: Devils @ Hurricanes LIVECAP!

    10:02 PM: I’m goin’ to bed.  I think none of us are all that shocked that this series is gonna go seven.  My heart might not make in ’til Tuesday night.  G’night gang.

    10:00 PM: Game 7 is Tuesday night at The Rock.  Let’s just pretend like tonight didn’t happen.  Game 7 is all that matters now, and despite how tonight’s game looked, these two teams are still amazingly evenly matched.

    9:59 PM: And that’s it.  4-0.  I’m sick to death of 4-0 games this year.

    9:58 PM: Gionta can’t stuff it home with a little room in front – one minute left in the game.

    9:56 PM: The Devils are playing without a fourth line right now – apparently both Rupp and Clarkson earned 10 minute misconducts in that little scrum before.  Only Gleason picked up one for Carolina.

    9:55 PM: Three minutes left in this humiliation of a hockey game.

    9:51 PM: And another blatant penalty, this one a trip via Brian Rolston.  Guys, I agreed to LiveCap this game, which means I HAVE to watch it.  At least stop taking boneheaded penalties while I’m still forced to pay attention!

    9:49 PM: Shorthanded three-on-two but Shanny can’t bury the puck.  One goal would be nice at least…

    9:47 PM: Somehow in the fight, the Hurricanes wound up with a power play.  Great.  Rupp took the extra two for roughing.

    9:44 PM: Hey, a sign of life!  Clarkson pulls Gleason out of a scrum and after a bit of hugging, they finally give us a full-fledged fight.  Hey, it worked for the Penguins.  Problem is, Clarkson waited one goal and one period too many.

    9:39 PM: Jussi Jokinen, 4-0.  Marty had no chance, of course.  Sigh.

    9:37 PM: Someone on TV wasn’t happy.  Dunno if it was a fan or player, but someone yelled pretty loudly “HEY!  WHAT THE F&$% WAS THAT?!”  Immediately afterwards, Madden’s off for roughing.  A long 5-on-3 for the Hurricanes, and if you don’t have ‘em yet, I’d go pick up your game 7 tickets right about now.

    9:36 PM: Travis Zajac with a pretty obvious hook.  11:30 left in the third.  Bad timing, Trav.  Bad timing.

    9:35 PM: Even our chances aren’t actual chances – Shanahan has Ward out of position but can’t get a shot away through the Hurricane defense.

    9:32 PM: So, how ’bout them Mets?  …seriously?  8-1?  To the NATIONALS?  Ugh.  I got nothin’.

    9:27 PM: That was pretty indicative of how this game’s been going:  Andy Greene with a nice run up ice, all by his lonesome, chips it past a defender at the blue line, chases after it…and trips and falls into a massive heap over a random ‘Cane.

    9:24 PM: Well, here goes nothin’.  Third period on.

    9:06 PM: And the second period is over.  Thank god.  3-0 Hurricanes.  Book your game seven tickets now kids, there isn’t even a hint that the Devils can come back from this one a la Tuesday night.

    9:02 PM: A few seconds of serious offensive flurry in front of Cam Ward, but nothing doing.  BAH!

    8:59 PM: The response is not as immediate as it was Tuesday night.

    8:55 PM: I’m gonna try something.  It worked last time:

    Attention Devils:

    WAKE UP!

    Thanks.

    -2 Man Advantage.

    8:52 PM: I was really hoping there wouldn’t be a game seven, because dammit, I have stuff to do Tuesday night that I’m gonna have to cancel in favor of going to The Rock.

    8:48 PM: Hey hey, a shot on goal!  Stopped by Cam Ward, but at least there was a shot within the area of the red pipes, that might have gone into the net had there not be a human being standing in front of it.

    8:44 PM: I give up.  AWFUL two-on-one and Marty’s just left out to dry.  3-0, Staal’s goal again.  I really don’t feel like watching this game anymore at this point.

    8:41 PM: Shots on goal currently sits at 22-5 in favor of Carolina.  THAT should tell you who’s bothered to show up in Raleigh this evening.

    8:38 PM: …dammit.  2-0 Hurricanes, Staal.  Dammit dammit dammit.

    8:37 PM: The Devils just cannot make it to any loose pucks.  It’s scary how much better the Hurricanes look right now.

    8:36 PM: Zubbie outta the box.

    8:35 PM: ‘Canes gotta be up to eight or nine shots on just two power plays so far tonight.  Meep.

    8:33 PM: Not the love I was speaking of.  Zubbie takes a retaliatory roughing call and it’s Carolina to the PP.

    8:32 PM: Second period on.  C’mon Unseen Hand, a little love, eh?

    8:14 PM: And that’ll do it for period one.  Devils start with a two-second power play to start the second period.  Shots on goal:  Carolina 15, New Jersey 4.  Oof.

    8:12 PM: Uhm, guys…we ARE on the power play…That means that, well, the puck should be in the offensive zone and controlled by you the majority of the time.

    8:11 PM: NICE sliding breakup of the two-on-one by Mike Mottau, then Zubbie draws a tripping penalty via Pitkanen with about two minutes left in the first.

    8:10 PM: I hear it’s hot in Raleigh today – it sure is hot here – and it shows in terms of ice quality.  Or it could also be us sucking.  That’s possible.

    8:08 PM: On a happier note, I’m watching this game in HD for a  change!

    8:07 PM: Aaand that’s why I don’t get my hopes up.  Not a bad power play per se, but nothing to show for it nonetheless.

    8:05 PM: Pitkanen hooks Gionta and we’re on the (PSE&G) Power Play.  I’d get excited if I thought we had a chance to score.

    8:04 PM: Or crossbar.  Possibly holy crazy crossbar save.

    8:03 PM: Holy crazy blocker save!

    7:59 PM: And when I say that they’re not trying, I of course am not including Marty.  This game would be 4-0 without him right now.

    7:58 PM: I understand that it’s hard to match desperation when a team’s got it’s back to the wall, but jeez, trying a little would be nice.

    7:54 PM: DAMMIT!  Ray Whitney finally cracks Marty, batting a puck out of mid-air baseball-style.  1-0 Hurricanes, and perhaps more telling, 12-1 shots in the Hurricanes favor, and I refuse to believe the fact that we actually have a shot on goal.

    7:51 PM: Penalty kill’d.  Thankfully, and not for lack of trying on Carolina’s end.  Eleven and a half left in the period.

    7:48 PM: Oh jebus.  Pandolfo loses his stick during the PP, as does Marty, with chances galore for the ‘Canes, but STILL we finally manage to clear.  Oh man this is gonna be a crazy game, just like every other one this series before it.

    7:46 PM: Well the Hurricanes sure realize that this could be their last game.  And the fans sure realize that this could be their last game as well.  Mike Rupp does not realize this, apparently, and takes a holding penalty on Jussi Jokinen.

    7:45 PM: Oh, right, no Doc tonight.  Blast.

    7:43 PM: I got stuck at work, but I am here now.  Langs back in, Holik’s a scratch, Greene’s still in, still no Salvador, game in 2 minutes old, no score yet.  Get it?  Got it?  Good.

    This will probably make your brain hurt.

    So here we sit, on the brink of the 2009 playoffs.  Y’know,  the playoffs the Devils had no business being in after the events of November 1st, 2008 – the awkward-looking elbow injury heard ’round the world.

    With one more game left in the regular season, the Devils are locked into the number three seed, having clinched the Atlantic Division championship by way of the Flyers loss to the Rangers (or the win over the Senators if you refuse to believe that any Rangers win could help us).  The only mystery left is who will be shipping up to Newark come Wednesday or Thursday.

    There’s only three possibilities – The Carolina Hurricanes (whom the Devils face in the regular season finale at The Rock tomorrow), the Philadelphia Flyers (who travel to Long Island then finish off their season at home against the Rangers), or the Penguins (in Montreal Saturday night for their final game).

    All three teams sit at 97 points, and will finish fourth, fifth, and sixth in the division when all is said and done.  Obviously, we get the team finishing sixth while the other two get each other in the first round.

    So, here comes the fun part:  How can this all break down?  Who will the Devils get in the first round?  Let’s have a look-see (make sure you’ve got some coffee handy, this is gonna be a doozy):

    We’ll start out slow and easy.  If the Devils cannot beat the Hurricanes tomorrow, they cannot face the Hurricanes in the playoffs, regardless of what happens with Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. And let’s face it, if we lose to the Hurricanes tomorrow, they’ll have swept the season series, and it’s probably a good thing we’d be avoiding them in the first round.

    Philly needs to gain three of four points to guarantee themselves the number four seed and home ice in the first round, guaranteeing the Devils a first round date with either the ‘Canes or the, uh, ‘Guins.

    Now to make things slightly more interesting:  If the Flyers manage to lose in regulation both to the Islanders and the Rangers, we get Philly in the first round. We also get Philly in the first if all three teams finish with the same number of points OR if Philly earns only one point while Carolina and Pittsburgh earn at least one each.  Unlikely, yes, but stranger things have happened.

    If all three teams win all of their remaining games, we’d get Pittsburgh in the first round (as previously mentioned, this would also happen if the Penguins and Hurricanes win and the Flyers gain three of four points as well).

    Now we get to fun part:

    If Philly wins out, we beat Carolina Saturday (regulation or otherwise), and Pittsburgh beats Montreal, we get the Hurricanes.  Other ways the Devils can play the Hurricanes in round one: Flyers gain two of four, Pittsburgh gains two, and the Hurricanes lose to the Devils (regulation or otherwise); Philly gains two, Pittsburgh gains one, Carolina loses to NJ in regulation.

    The Devils will catch a first round date with Sidney Crosby and all the NBC cameras money can buy IF: All three teams earn the maximum number of points; Philly earns a minimum of three, Carolina earns at least a point, and the Penguins earn exactly one point; Philly earns two, Carolina earns a minimum of one point, and the Penguins earn exactly one point; Philly and Carolina earn exactly one point and the Penguins earn exactly zero points; Philly earns exactly one point, Carolina earns a maximum of one point, and Pittsburgh earns zilch.

    Got it?  Good, there’s a test tomorrow.

    So who should we be rooting for, and to do what?  I wish it was that simple.  All three teams scare me a little, honestly:  Carolina because we have yet to solve them this season, Philly because it would be an intense, hard-hitting rivalry series, and Pittsburgh because they have scary-good talent and the black-and-white stripes on their side.

    For purely selfish reasons, I will say that I personally hope the Devils avoid Pittsburgh in the first round, because I like MSG+’s coverage more than NBC and Versus, and there’s no chance in hell a series featuring Sidney Crosby doesn’t get at least two nationally televised games.

    Beyond that, it doesn’t really matter who the Devils get in the first round, it’s going to be a tough series no matter what.  The way the boys in red n’ black have been playing lately, there are no cupcake opponents from here on out.  Ultimately, it’s up to the Devils to take care of Carolina at The Rock on Saturday, head into the playoffs having won four of five games, and let the rest of the chips fall where they may.

    Oh, and if there really is a possibility of the Devils opening the postseason with home games on Thursday AND Friday as has been rumored (rather than Wednesday/Friday or Thursday/Saturday), well then, I hope we face whatever team prevents that.  Yeah.