NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 04: Jaromir Jagr #68 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Washington Capitals at the Prudential Center on April 4, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Capitals 2-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Jagr: I’ve always believed we were a playoff team


The New Jersey Devils still has a legitimate chance to make the playoffs and that’s pretty impressive given how long they’ve been on the ropes.

It’s been an up-and-down campaign and you could get an accurate idea of what was happening at any given time based on Jaromir Jagr’s quotes alone. He’s been upfront about his feelings on how the team is doing throughout the campaign.

We’ve seen both extremes of that lately with him blasting the team’s preseason-quality effort in a 6-3 victory on Monday to talking about how proud he was of them after edging out Washington on Friday.

He argues that the one constant is that he never lost faith that the team would make the playoffs.

“I’ve believed since day one,” Jagr insisted, per the Star-Ledger.

He’s not alone in that belief. The Devils have stayed focused on competing despite the long odds that they’ve faced for a while now. They’ve managed to claw their way back from a 9.39% chance of making the playoffs following a loss to the New York Rangers on March 22, per the Sports Club Stats. They’ve been beaten in shootouts a few times since that defeat, but never in regulation.

New Jersey won’t play tonight, but Columbus is set to face the New York Islanders. If the Blue Jackets lose in regulation, then the Devils will be just one point back with four games left in both teams’ schedules.

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen