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N.J. in a Devil of a hole

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

It’s hard to imagine a team finishing with a franchise-record 51 wins and the league’s fifth-best record being in the midst of a downer, but that’s where the Devils are heading into the playoffs.

New Jersey lost six in a row before winning four of their last five to end the season. But of those four victories, only Carolina was a playoff team and the Devils barely squeaked by bottom-feeders Tampa Bay and Ottawa and lost to the Maple Leafs.

New Jersey plays the Hurricanes in Round 1 and will be in tough. The Canes come at opponents in waves, averaging nearly three goals-per-game since Paul Maurice took over behind the bench Dec. 3; they’ve put up five-plus goals nine times – with two nine-goal games – during that time.

New Jersey will have to turn it around quickly if they hope to get anywhere beginning Wednesday.

The Hockey News Power Rankings will return next season.

RK.

TEAM

LW

OVERALL

L10

THE SCOOP

1

1

53-19-11

8-2-0

Boston made a strong push for first overall and showed Montreal in the final week of the regular season what to expect physically in Round 1

2

4

45-28-9

7-2-1

Malkin clinches Art Ross becoming the 13th Penguin in the past 21 seasons to do so

3

3

53-18-11

5-4-1

Losses to the Coyotes and Kings to close out the season are concerning, but the Sharks are back to full strength with the return of regulars, including captain Marleau

4

2

45-30-7

8-2-0

Losses to the Sabres and Devils kept Canes from home ice in first round, but they're 13-3-0 since the beginning of March and are the hottest team in the league; Erik Cole has 15 points in 17 games with Carolina

5

8

45-27-1

6-3-1

Wrapped-up Northwest title with three wins to finish the season; Sedins both finish with 82 points, third season in a row they've been 1-2 in Canucks scoring

6

5

51-21-1

3-6-1

Franzen is the newest long-term Wing with 11-year, $43.5-million contract

7

7

50-24-8

6-2-2

Ovie wins second Rocket Richard Trophy, his 528 shots are second most in NHL history behind Phil Esposito's 550 in 1970-71

8

10

46-24-12

7-2-1

First playoff-berth in five seasons, first 100-point season since 1992-93

9

12

41-31-10

8-1-1

No goaltender has more wins than Chris Mason in the past four weeks

10

9

42-33-7

7-2-1

Looks like Jonas Hiller will be the starter for the playoffs

11

6

51-27-4

4-5-1

Devils' late-season slide continued, although they won their final two games; will Patrik Elias be healthy for a tough first round series versus Carolina?

12

11

46-30-6

4-6-0

Late-season swoon cost Flames the Northwest Division and home-ice advantage; Iginla finished with lowest point total in three years

13

13

44-27-11

4-5-1

Loss to Rangers on final day of season cost Flyers home ice in first round; Jeff Carter led the team in goals, points and plus-minus

14

21

41-32-9

7-2-1

Goalie Ryan Miller went 5-2-0 after returning from injury in late March, too late to propel Sabres into post-season

15

17

41-30-11

6-3-1

Panthers finish 14th overall, but miss final playoff spot in East on tiebreaker

16

15

41-31-10

3-3-4

Columbus' worst power play in the NHL meets Detroit's No. 1 power play in Round 1

17

16

41-30-11

5-3-2

Lose their final four games and just squeak into post-season; no Markov and a battered Schneider means Habs are in tough versus Bruins

18

18

40-33-9

6-3-1

Gaborik returns with 18 points in Wild's final 11 games; team misses playoffs by two points, coach Jacques Lemaire steps down

19

20

43-3-9

5-4-1

Without a 60-point scorer, it begins and ends with goalie Henrik Lundqvist in the playoffs

20

14

40-34-8

5-4-1

The Predators' post-season dream died on the vine with a 10th-place finish in the West; Pekka Rinne finishes sixth in GAA and ninth in save percentage

21

23

36-39-7

6-4-0

Shane Doan led Yotes in goals by 16 and points by 27…ugh

22

24

35-41-6

6-4-0

Thrashers finished with the 11th-best power play, but the 29th-best penalty kill

23

27

34-35-13

5-5-0

Signings of NCAA stars Tyler Bozak and Christian Hanson add depth to woeful system

24

25

36-35-11

3-4-3

Normally stingy Stars gave up the sixth-most goals-per-game in the league this season; rookie Fabian Brunnstrom disappoints with 17 goals and 29 points

25

26

34-37-11

4-5-1

Talented, youthful Kings expected to be big trade market players this off-season; looking for veteran scoring presence

26

19

38-35-9

3-7-0

Big steps back for Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Dustin Penner; Sheldon Souray ties for team lead with 23 goals

27

22

36-35-11

4-5-1

Banking on Pascal Leclaire to be the No. 1 goaltender the team hasn't had since Dominik Hasek; will Spezza and Heatley both be Senators when the puck drops again in October?

28

28

26-47-9

2-7-1

Virtual American League team for final weeks of the season assured the Isles of finishing last overall

29

29

32-45-5

1-6-3

Poor signings and boatload of injuries added up to a miserable season in Denver; GM Francois Giguere paid with his job

30

30

24-40-18

1-7-2

Loser point kept Lightning from last overall; did its best to get there with nine losses in a row to close out the season

The Hockey News ranks the teams 1-30 each Monday based on a combination of last week’s play and a squad’s overall outlook.

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