The New Jersey Devils used to be a juggernaut, but this will be the third time in four seasons that they have fallen short of the playoffs. The one exception was when they went to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.
Of course, they then lost to the Los Angeles Kings, but Devils GM Lou Lamoriello still used it as a pretext to look on the bright side.
“I’ll look at a positive. If you can say one out of every four years you’d be in the Stanley Cup Finals, would you take it?” Lamoriello asked, per the Star-Ledger. “Approach it from a positive standpoint. We’re here to win the Stanley Cup. We’re here to win, not to just get into the playoffs.
“You can (take) that answer any way you want about three out of four years (missing) the playoffs. If it means missing the playoffs to do certain things to win the Stanley Cup, then that’s what it means. That’s mediocrity just getting to the playoffs.”
The problem is that’s the argument a franchise uses when they’re embracing a rebuilding process where the team is willing to endure losing seasons in the hope of building a squad with a chance to seriously compete for the Stanley Cup.
That’s not what the Devils have been doing though. They do have some young talent like forward Adam Henrique, but the core of this team are players in or past their prime. They lost Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk in back-to-back years and responded over the summer by signing 31-year-old Ryane Clowe, 34-year-old Michael Ryder, and 42-year-old Jaromir Jagr. Do those sound like the guys you go after when you’re focused on the future rather than present?
Of course, there’s a reason why they would try to win now even after losing two of their best offensive players: Because the Devils didn’t have a draft pick in 2014. They lost it as part of their punishment for their original attempt to sign Kovalchuk to a long-term deal. The NHL has since partially reversed that decision so that the Devils will get the 30th overall pick. That’s better, but doesn’t compensate them for their shortcomings this season.
Maybe Lamoriello’s statement is an indication of what’s to come for the Devils though. It’s understandable that they wouldn’t fully embrace a rebuilding process ahead of a season where they didn’t control their first round pick. Going forward, they won’t have that issue.
Breaking: the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers don’t like each other.
The stakes might be higher for the Penguins than the Flyers – aside from those who still believe Philly has a shot at a playoff run – their rivalry rarely subsides.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Sunday featured at least one fight, with Cameron Gaunce squaring off against Brandon Manning in a pretty spirited bout.
Manning isn’t shy about fighting, by the way; this was his seventh bout of the season, according to Hockey Fights.
Higher on the radar for the Penguins is the situation for Conor Sheary, who has been absent from the ice since about midway through the first period. PHT will keep an eye out for updates on what could be yet another injury for the health-challenged Pens.
Life is difficult, complex and confusing. Good thing we have dog videos.
Forgive this video being one night late, but for those of us who watch cute animal clips, time is a furry circle. Or something like that.
Anyway, this golden retriever got a little “ice time” before the Washington Capitals’ game against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday in what would end up being a 4-1 win for the Caps. It’s an excellent video featuring a top-notch, hilarious pooch.
Alternate joke: Now that is some puck retrieval.
Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews are locked with identical goals (34), assists (27) and points (61) on Sunday, which is remarkable since Laine has played in 67 games versus 75 for Matthews. He won’t get a chance to beef up his numbers on Sunday, either.
It looks like the high-scoring rookie is missing the Winnipeg Jets’ contest against the Vancouver Canucks because of an illness, according to TSN’s Sara Orlesky.
The Jets are almost assured to miss the playoffs, so seeing Laine lose a chance to bolster his Calder argument adds a little extra sadness to the night.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced a Monday hearing for San Jose Sharks tough guy Micheal Haley for his “roughing/sucker punch” on Calle Jarnkrok of the Nashville Predators.
The league didn’t specify if Haley will face a telephone or in-person hearing on Monday afternoon. They did, interestingly, use the phrase “sucker punch” in that official announcement.
Haley received a match penalty during the game. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was highly upset about the hit that inspired Haley’s actions.
“When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth,” DeBoer told reporters.
In other bad news for the Sharks, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reports that Logan Couture‘s situation isn’t looking promising after he was hurt on Sunday.