New Jersey Finishes Up Season against Panthers

The New Jersey Devils wrapped up the 2014-15 National Hockey League season where they played six months ago to the day (October 11) in sunny Sunrise, Florida on a night when all thirty NHL teams were in action and some playoff races and matchups would be decided. They took on their fellow playoff outsiders, the Florida Panthers. The Devils were visiting old teammate (and ageless wonder) Jaromir Jagr for the first time since the trade that sent him to the Sunshine State back at the trading deadline. Al Montoya got the start for the Cats, while Cory Schneider started his 69th game for the Devils.

The Devils started off in familiar territory, with Mark Fraser being whistled for cross checking 9:42 into the first period, putting the Devils on the penalty kill early. They managed to kill off the two minutes and get through the early setback.

After a scoreless first period, the Devils broke the ice at 1:50 of the second. Defenseman Eric Gelinas launched the puck to Jordin Tootoo, who immediately gave it to Travis Zajac. The puck was then sent back to Tootoo to set up the one-timer and Tootoo had his 10th of the season. Ken Daneyko’s analysis on the MSG+2 broadcast showed Zajac’s patience in holding the puck through the slot, drawing the Florida defenseman towards him, allowing him to give it back to Tootoo, who had a clear angle for the one-timer and the goal.

The Devils had things in control until late in the second, when Florida tied things up. Dave Bolland scored his 6th of the year from Brad Boyes and Jussi Jokinen at 11:08, tying the game at one apiece. The Panthers kept the Devils pinned in their defensive zone for the next few minutes until things opened up a little bit more.

Late in the second, the Panthers looked to have taken the lead, however, a Jimmy Hayes goal was waved off due to goaltender interference with Cory Schneider. The Devils dodged a bullet and got out of the period tied at one.

The Devils fell behind when Florida sensation Jonathan Huberdeau scored his 15th of the year from Jagr (who had his got his 30th assist of the season – with which he passed current Devils co-coach Adam Oates on the NHL’s all-time assist leaders list) and Aleksander Barkov.

Soon after, Dave Bolland went to the box for hooking, giving the Devils a power play at 9:23. Steve Bernier accidently hit Steven Kampfer knee-on-knee, setting up a Panther shorthanded scoring chance the other way. As Daneyko explained, he felt that Bernier was finishing his check and could not avoid the knee. Daneyko said that he knew the referee had to protect the player, but saw no intent. Unfortunately, Kampfer went off with an injury and Bernier got a five minute major for kneeing plus a game misconduct. Adam Henrique, who hauled down Scottie Upshall on the ensuing Panther breakaway, got two minutes for slashing and a game misconduct in the resulting melee to end his season early.

In the four-on-four that resulted (Alex Petrovic of Florida also went off with a two minute minor for roughing, making it four-on-four – he also got a 10-minute misconduct), Damon Severson got his 5th of the season, tying it up on assists from Mike Cammalleri and Peter Harrold at 11:01.

Once that dust settled, Tuomo Ruutu was serving Bernier’s five minute major, giving Florida a long power play. At 12:23, Jagr scored his 17th of the season from Dmitry Kulikov and Aaron Ekblad to give Florida a 3-2 lead. Montoya made a huge stop on a shorthanded breakaway by the Devils’ Mike Cammalleri about 30 seconds before Ruutu came out of the box. The Devils needed a goal to extend their season beyond the sixty minutes of regulation time.

Schneider was pulled with about 1:40 left in regulation, and the Devils had a huge chance when Patrik Elias rang one off the pipe with an open net and a Florida player cleared the crease. After an icing call, the Devils called a timeout with the faceoff about to come deep in the Panther zone with about thirty seconds left. The Devils could muster nothing off that faceoff (which they did win) and the 2014-15 season ticked away. Schneider had 23 saves in the loss, while Montoya had 25 in his win. The Devils finish the season with a 32-36-14 record, putting them in seventh place in the eight team Metropolitan Division.

Where do the Devils go from here? Of course, first and foremost on Lou Lamoriello’s agenda is finding a head coach. Be it Adam Oates or Scott Stevens, someone else from within the organization or someone from outside of the organization, the team will have that to address.

Some of the Devils will head to the World Championships this year in the Czech Republic. One player who will be looked at for a spot on his country’s team is Andy Greene. Steve Cangialosi and Ken Daneyko discussed on the MSG+2 broadcast how Greene has never really been on USA Hockey’s radar for international play and that that could change at these World Championships as soon as tomorrow (April 12) when all  NHL teams who will have qualified for the playoffs are final. Guys like Elias have been representing their country almost their entire careers. Will Andy Greene finally get the chance to wear the red, white and blue in international play?

For the Devils, two other key dates are the 2015 NHL Entry Draft to be held in South Florida on June 26-27 and the beginning of free agency on July 1. New Jersey’s draft position has yet to be determined, as the Draft Lottery has not happened yet, but one thing is for certain: when the Devils take the ice in October for the start of the 2015-16 NHL season, things will look a lot different. Time will tell exactly how different that different will be.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *