The Devils hope to live their own miracle on ice
Webster defines a miracle as an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment.
For the New Jersey Devils just fourteen games separates them from the completion of a miracle of their own. Fourteen games left to make-up 8 points. Fourteen games to do the unthinkable. Fourteen games to shock not just the NHL but the entire professional sports world.
On Friday and Saturday the Devils rallied with a couple late game comebacks capped off by dramatic overtime wins. The New Jersey Devils have set the table to finish the season strong and pull off a true sports miracle.
In early January, New Jersey was given up for dead. They were 27 points out of a playoff spot and dead last in the NHL. They were getting trounced night in and night out. You could see the wheels falling off the franchise. Lou Lamoriello looked less like the genius that constructed 3 Stanley Cup winners instead becoming the reason New Jersey was struggling so bad. A series off questionable free-agent signings and the Ilya Kovalchuk circus made the once untouchable GM vulnerable to criticism. Lamoriello needed to save his team and his legacy.
The firing of over-whelmed rookie coach John Maclean and the departure of captain Jamie Langenbrunner seemed to ignite the extinguished pilot light of a true hockey genius. Lamoriello brought back Jacque Lemaire and dealt Langenbrunner to the Western Conference. The Devils rattled off win after dramatic win. A new hero was born every night and a beleaguered super star Ilya Kovalchuk rose from the ashes to carry his team. At the trade deadline Lamoriello dealt veteran Jason Arnott to the Washington Capitals for face-off specialist David Steckel and a draft pick. The team didn’t skip a beat.
Now an energized, confident team skates on to the ice every night expecting to win. And for the last two months that’s what they have been doing. The Devils have catapulted themselves back into the hunt for a post season birth. Now just fourteen games and eight points separate the Devils from their historic destiny. Having gone 22-3-2 in their last 27 games, few would bet against them pulling it off and completing their miracle comeback.
The least complicated way for them to complete the greatest turnaround in NHL history would be to win their final 14 games and finish with more points than their nearest Eastern Conference competitors.
However, I can assure you the Devils aren’t thinking about the next fourteen games. If you ask any of they players if they believe they can complete this miracle run by winning out they would all say the same thing they have been saying for the last 27 games, “one game at a time.”
Tuesday 3/15 @ 7:00 PM ET
New Jersey Devils (32-32-4)
The Devils are looking to jump 4 teams to make the playoffs but on Tuesday they can at least pull even with the Atlanta Thrashers with a regulation victory.
The Devils will try and defeat the Thrashers for the second time in five days and take the season series Tuesday night at the Prudential Center.
Although continuing to win at a record pace, the Devils have gained almost no ground in the standings lately. The Devils were as much as 10 points out as of Feb. 21, and despite going 7-2-0 since, they’re still eight points out.
The Devils last nine games have all been decided by one goal, and their last two contests have been overtime victories. The Devils haven’t given up a first period goal in their last 16 games.
On the other side Atlanta has only scored 1 first period goal in their last 9 games. On Saturday Atlanta did all of its scoring after two periods in a 5-4 overtime win against the struggling Philadelphia Flyers.
The Thrashers used third period goals from Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Tobias Enstrom and Andrew Ladd,to storm back and force overtime. Atlanta completed the comeback on Ron Hainsey’s goal 1:17 into OT.
The Thrashers have won 3 of 4 and play eight of their final 13 on the road.
This will be a key game for both teams.
Current Playoff Race Standing as of 3/14/2011 from Fire & Ice
Eastern Conference playoff race
Team PTS GR NSW
7. Buffalo 76 13 29
8. Rangers 76 12 28
9. Carolina 72 13 27
10. Atlanta 70 13 26
11. Toronto 70 12 26
12. Devils 68 14 29
13. Florida 65 13 24
14. Islanders 64 12 24
stats/standings from nj.com
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Do You Believe in Miracles?
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