A 99 point 4th place building phase I guess.
It's very possible to have a team that can get a decent number of points in the regular season that never makes it out of the first round. They had a tough year against certain playoff teams (Habs, Rangers, sometimes the Pens although they tended to win more games against the Pens and then get their doors blown off in others). But, they did well against others, like the Flyers (could almost always get well against them) and, the Bruins. However, the team was pretty inconsistent. But I think it's fair to say that from the game against the Habs where they blew the two-goal lead in the third it was hard to tell exactly what team was going to show up on the ice, from game-to game and from period to period and that's the sign of a team that isn't whole yet, either offensively or defensively. And one that isn't going to go far in the playoffs.
I'm not surprised by what happened. I'm just surprised so many people expected more. I expected pretty much what happened, though, when he didn't upgrade the offense I said at the time that the team had been getting by on one of Marty's 'years' and people were probably thinking that if Lou had done something, anything for the offense, maybe Marty would have one of those playoff runs. However, the team just isn't there. I want you to think back to the Rangers in 1997, when they beat NJ in the second round and went to the ECF, losing to the Flyers in 5. Management thought the Rangers were one round away from the Finals, and even though they let Messier go, they brought in free agents, re-tooled around Gretzky, sure that that run wasn't a mirage, it was a sign that they were going places, had a real shot at the Cup Finals. Sometimes, deep runs are just a mirage. I believe that's all one would have this year for NJ, if it had happened.