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Morning Skate: Say goodnight to the New Jersey Devils

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Cory Schneider's injury just put New Jersey's playoff hopes to bed.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

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Lace 'em up. Time for the Morning Skate.

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GOODNIGHT, DEVILS

New Jersey had a bad weekend.

For months, the Devils looked like the biggest surprise playoff team of the season. They had timely scoring from unlikely heroes (notably, Lee Stempniak and Kyle Palmieri). They had a surprisingly robust special teams that hovered in or near the top 10 all year. And most importantly, they had one of the best goalies in the league.

And yet, perhaps inevitably, the Devils have steadily fallen out of the race over the last month. They have just three wins in regulation since January and sit in the midst of a 2-8-0 skid. Then came the dagger over the weekend: Cory Schneider sprained his knee on Friday and will miss about two weeks.

For any other team at any other point in the season, this would be a minor bump in the road. But New Jersey relies upon their goaltender more than any other team in the league. In the 55 games Schneider has started (more than anyone in the NHL), 38 of them have been quality starts. He has a better goals against average than Braden Holtby or Corey Crawford, who play on vastly superior teams.

Two weeks without Schneider at this point in the season signals the death knell for the Devils' playoff hopes. It also raises the question for any fan of a team that barely misses the playoffs in the middle of a franchise rebuild: was it worth it?

WHAT HAPPENED LAST NIGHT

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