The New Jersey Devils had to win Monday night.
Statistically they haven’t been officially eliminated from the playoffs, but with only four games left in the regular season and three points out of a playoff spot, their loss to the Calgary Flames feels like it sucked out any hope that the Devils will be playing in the postseason.
Only one man came out looking bright when the game was over, and that man was goaltender Karri Ramo, who completely took over and stole the game for the Flames. With the Flames clinging on to a 1-0 lead, the Devils were relentless in the offensive zone and had countless opportunities to tie the game, but Ramo shut the door time and time again. When the final buzzer sounded, Ramo had 31 saves and the Flames robbed the Devils of a crucial two points.
The Flames aren’t a playoff team and didn’t look like a playoff team Monday night, which is why the Devils’ loss hurts that much more. With only eight possible points left to gather in their final four games of the regular season, the Flames were the weakest team on the schedule.
Now, the Devils have to defeat the Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders and Boston Bruins in order to have a chance at making the playoffs, but considering how well the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings have looked lately, the Devils are in deep, deep trouble.
When the Devils traded for Cory Schneider and signed Jaromir Jagr, I don’t think the front office thought that they would be on the outside looking in at this point in the season. Even without Zach Parise, the Devils have plenty of talent and are playing in arguably the weakest division in the NHL – there’s no doubt this season has been a disappointment.
When the playoffs begin on April 16, it appears the Devils will most likely be on the golf course.