Now that I have looked at how Ottawa saved the Washington Capitals season and help turn around their game (even though a few readers disagreed with my point of view), I want to examine how the Ottawa Senators ruined the New Jersey Devils season.
Last season, New Jersey had a disappointing first round loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. During the season, the Devils bet big and traded for the best available player, snipper Ilya Kovalchuk. They paid a hefty bounty to get him in a Devils jersey, especially for a player that was free to walk in the summer as a free agent.
After their playoff loss, came the off-season and the long, drawn out process that was the Kovalchuk re-signing. When all was done, Kovalchuk put fresh ink on a 15 year $100 million contract. The Devils also went shopping to shore up their defense and signed Anton Volchenkov and Henrik Tallinder. The only problem with the new additions to their roster was that the Devils had to balance the salary cap on a daily basis.
Looking like a contender going into the season, the Devils started the year off by going 3-8-1 in the first month of the season. At the end of November, the Devils had a record of 8-14-2 through their first 24 games. With all their players under performing, there were calls to have head coach John Maclean fired, but GM Lou Lamoriello stood behind his man.
With ten games in December before the Christmas break, the Devils went 1-9 to push their record to 9-23-2 overall and a seat in the basement of the entire league. Their horrible record in December cost head coach Maclean his job as he was fired two days before Christmas. GM Lamoriello brought back an old face behind the bench to finish out the season in Jacques Lemaire.
With the Devils considered out of the playoff chase by the beginning of the new year, Lemaire and Lamoriello wanted to see what they had on their roster. Lemaire brought back the Devils system, aka ‘The Trap’ and stabilized the team. In Lemaire’s first 31 games behind the bench, the Devils went 21-8-2 to bring their overall record to 30-31-4 and back into playoff contender, albeit a long shot to make it.
Then came their March 8th game versus the Ottawa Senators. With New Jersey on a 20-4 run in their last 24 games, the Devils looked to steam roll the Sens who were dropping fast in the standings. But Ottawa had different plans as they dropped the Devils 2-1. This loss was only a hiccup in the Devils run as they went on to win their next three games.
The Devils had a rematch with the Sens nine days after their last loss, and with Jersey pushing closer to the teams in the chase for the final playoff spot in the East, they suffered another disheartening loss to Ottawa. After this game, the Devils went 5-6-1 in their last 12 games and all but put themselves out of the playoff race.
These two loses to Ottawa put a damper in the Devils momentum as their miracle run from last in the league to a playoff spot was cut short. In their season of turmoil, Ottawa was a turning point that ended their storied comeback season.
Thoughts on Ottawa besting the Devils.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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