Tuomo Ruutu

Parise ‘never would’ve predicted’ Devils would miss playoffs three years in a row


Though they’re not mathematically eliminated yet, the New Jersey Devils won’t make the postseason this year. It’ll mark the organization’s third straight miss, a fact that took their former captain by surprise.

“I never would’ve predicted they’d miss the playoffs three years in a row. Just because of the way things are run,” Minnesota forward Zach Parise said prior to Tuesday’s 6-2 blowout win over the Devils, per the Star-Ledger. “I hope they can pull off something at the end of the year, or next year, and get back in.”

Parise, who spent the first seven years of his career in New Jersey, went to the playoffs six times with the Devils — the only time the Devils missed during the Parise era was the 2010-11 campaign which, not coincidentally, was the year Parise missed 69 games after a torn meniscus in his right knee.

New Jersey’s last playoff appearance, also not coincidentally, was in Parise’s last year with the club, when the Devils lost in the Stanley Cup Final to Los Angeles. The current team barely resembles the one that captured the Eastern Conference crown three years ago; gone are the likes of Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, David Clarkson, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Marek Zidlicky, Ryan Carter, Petr Sykora, Mark Fayne, Anton Volchenkov and Martin Brodeur.

The club also made a coaching change, firing Peter DeBoer and replacing him with an unconventional three-coach setup comprised of Adam Oates, Scott Stevens and GM Lou Lamoriello.

Lamoriello has been the target of heavy criticism over the last three years, as a number of his veteran acquisitions — Ryane Clowe, Michael Ryder, Martin Havlat, Damien Brunner, Tuomo Ruutu — have failed to pan out.

Parise wasn’t about join the list of Lamoriello critics, however, saying that part of the Devils’ issues could be chalked up to bad luck.

“Guys have good years. Guys have off-years,” he explained. “When you have a group of people having off-years, you might miss the playoffs. If you have a group of people having a great year, you’re in.

“It’s hard to predict.”

Leafs’ skid hits 11 games following loss to the Devils


Patrik Elias’ 400th career NHL goal stood to be the game-winner as the New Jersey Devils stretched their win streak to three games with a 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Friday night.

With the loss, the Leafs’ winless streak is now at 11 games. Toronto is 0-10-1 in during the skid. Since concluding their six-game win streak on Dec. 16, the Leafs are 3-18-1.

“It’s tough. You always want to try to stay positive,” said Tyler Bozak, who had the lone Leafs’ goal. “When things are going like this it’s hard to stay positive but we need everyone to be leaders and try to be as positive as we can and get out of this.”

Tuomo Ruutu, Steve Bernier and Jaromir Jagr had the other goals for the Devils. Bernier now has seven points in his last eight games. Ruutu’s goal snapped a 27-game drought.

Cory Schneider made 33 saves to improve to 19-19-5 on the season.

New Jersey now has points in a season-high six straight games (5-0-1) and in 10 of their last 12 games (8-2-2).

“It’s definitely testing,” said Leafs’ defenseman, Cody Franson. “It’s testing our character in our room. It’s testing the way we handle adversity. It’s been a frustrating process.”

James Reimer made 13 saves in the loss and saw his record drop to 6-11-0 on the season.

With the win, the Devils sweep the season series with the Leafs (3-0-0).

Related: Lightning acquire Ashton and Broll from the Leafs

Devils’ Jagr battled the flu and mumps


Jaromir Jagr battled both the flu and mumps, which forced him to miss the Devils’ last three games.

The 42-year-old is expected to be in New Jersey’s lineup Wednesday when the Devils play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Jagr returned to practice Monday. He last played on Jan. 9.

Tuomo Ruutu, who has also been out of the lineup since Jan.9, has recovered from the flu and will play Wednesday.

Patrik Elias, who was at the All-Star Game in Columbus, received a ride from John Tavares and Jaroslav Halak on a chartered private jet Sunday night. Elias’ scheduled flight Monday morning was cancelled due to a snow storm.

Ryane Clowe (suspected concussion) and Stephen Gionta (fractured hand) did not practice Monday.

Veteran NHLer Jarkko Ruutu calls it a career


Former Canuck, Penguin, Senator and Duck Jarkko Ruutu has announced his retirement from professional hockey.

Ruutu, 39, made the announcement shortly after joining Swiss club EHC Biel on a professional tryout. The veteran winger went to Switzerland following a three-year stint with Jokerit of the SM-liiga.

A well-known agitator, Ruutu last played in the NHL with Anaheim during the 2010-11 campaign. His best season came with Ottawa during the ’09-10 season, in which he posted career highs in goals (12) and points (26).

The older brother of New Jersey forward Tuomo Ruutu, Jarko went to a Stanley Cup Final with Pittsburgh in 2008 and had tremendous success internationally, capturing two Olympic medals with Finland (silver in ’06, bronze in ’10).

Devils sign Gomez, actually manage to get older


Scott Gomez is officially a Devil once again.

Gomez, who joined New Jersey during the preseason and has been practicing with the team ever since, agreed to a contract on Monday “because of the center situation,” per GM Lou Lamoriello.

The situation, you ask? Injuries to Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique, both of whom will miss the club’s upcoming road trip to Pittsburgh and Toronto. Forwards Martin Havlat and Ryane Clowe are also shelved with ailments, which has resulted in the Devils icing a makeshift lineup of:

Patrik Elias-Scott Gomez-Jaromir Jagr

Damien Brunner-Mike Cammalleri-Michael Ryder

Tuomo Ruutu-Jacob Josefson-Steve Bernier

Jordin Tootoo-Stephen Gionta-Dainius Zubrus

As alluded to in the headline, Gomez ain’t making the Devils any younger. New Jersey came into this season with the NHL’s oldest team — an average age of 31.0 — and the 34-year-old Gomez will bump that up a bit.

Gomez, who won two Cups during his eight-year (1999-2007) stint in New Jersey, also becomes the seventh Devils player born in the 70s, joining Jagr, Elias, Zubrus, Bryce Salvador, Marek Zidlicky and Scott Clemmensen.

Updated: Contract details, per Sportsnet…