There may still be one game to be played, but 2014 hasn’t been the best year for the New Jersey Devils in terms of garnering victories. However, as per any season, there have been bright spots which at least lessen the reality of a team that has missed the playoffs two consecutive seasons, and trending in the direction of a third.
Here are my top five Devils games of 2014!
5) Thursday, December 4th, New Jersey Devils 5 @ Toronto Maple Leafs 3 – Devils overcome a slew of major injuries for huge win
While New Jersey can say they may be even worse off now then they were then, this was still a very workman like effort in what turned out to be an inspiring victory for the Devils. They were without Jaromir Jagr, Patrick Elias, Adam Larsson, and several other Devils who are currently still on the injured reserve list.
The Devils and Leafs went back and forth for the majority of the first period and second period until Mike Cammalleri put the Devils permanently in front with a power play goal late in the second. Adam Henrique sealed it late in the third period after following up on Michael Ryder’s flubbed shot.
Eric Gelinas, Stephen Gionta, and Steve Bernier also contributed goals in the contest.
4) Friday, February 7th, Edmonton Oilers 1 @ New Jersey Devils 2 (OT) – Jon Merrill’s first NHL goal
This was Jon Merrill’s coming out party as after playing well through most of the season, he finally contributed the first goal of his NHL career in a huge overtime victory over Edmonton.
It seemed like it wasn’t meant to be for the Devils as they hit numerous pipes throughout regulation including off a breakaway from Ryane Clowe. This game was also payback for the Devils as they blew a three-goal lead back in Edmonton at the start of the season.
Anderi Loktionov, who was traded later in the season for Tuomo Rutuu, had the other goal in in the first period.
3) Thursday, October 30th, Winnipeg Jets 1 @ New Jersey Devils 2 (SO) – Devils break their NHL record consecutive shootout losses
After almost inconceivably losing in 18 straight shootout, the Devils finally ended the streak against the team they last beat in the Winnipeg Jets. It had been a streak of futility that had cost the Devils a playoff spot last April, and looked to continue haunting them after a shootout loss to the Dallas Stars earlier in the year.
The Devils wouldn’t have ever gotten there in the first place if it wasn’t for a dazzling move by Ryder to tie the game late in the third period. After going scoreless through overtime, the burden fell on Cory Schneider to shut the door for the Devils. He stopped all three Jets shooters while Jacob Josefson pulled a great move on Ondrej Pavelec to win the shootout and end the streak.
It turned out to be a great night and rightfully deserves a place on this list.
2) Sunday, April 13th, Boston Bruins 2 @ New Jersey Devils 3 – Martin Brodeur’s last game as a Devil
He had 1259 games played, 688 wins, 124 shutouts, and boatload of other NHL records while the undisputed number one goaltender, over the course of 20 seasons with the New Jersey Devils. With New Jersey out of playoff contention, and their last regular season game on home-ice, Devils fans got one last chance to echo the ‘Marty, Marty’ chant for the goaltender who brought three Stanley Cups to the tri-state area.
Ever time Brodeur made a save, the arena would erupt in cheers, and after the Devils completed a successful 3-2 victory over Boston, Marty came out for one last ovation and was named the games first star.
It was an emotional night for fans like myself who grew idolizing the future hall-of-fame netminder and takes the number two spot on my list.
1) Thursday, March 20th, Minnesota Wild 3 @ New Jersey Devils 4 (OT) – Zach Parise’s return to New Jersey
I terms of a night that was purely epic and thrilling, Zach Parise’s return to play the Devils took the number one spot on my list.
Strangely enough, this was Parise’s first time back in New Jersey because of the lockout-shortened season in which teams only played against their own conference that season. Praise didn’t wait long to try to impact the game, however Cory Schneider stopped him on a short-handed breakaway.
New Jersey held a late 3-1 lead in the third period on goals from Ryder, Fayne, and Jagr but the Wild rallied with goals from Mikael Granlund and Marco Scandella to tie the game at three. Overtime was short as Patrik Elias weaved his way in and dished a pass, which deflected off Adam Henrique right to the stick of Andy Greene who deposited the puck into a wide open net for a huge victory that kept the team in the playoff race.