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Lace 'em up. Time for the Morning Skate.
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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
- After a terrible game against Chicago last week, Detroit had a chance to redeem themselves on Sunday. They failed.
- The Red Wings need better performances from Petr Mrazek if they want to beat better teams like the Blackhawks.
- Jason Spezza is still one of the hottest players in the NHL. He led the Stars to a huge 2-1 win over the Senators on Sunday.
- No matter who was out of the lineup for Dallas, a Sens loss was probably the likely outcome anyways.
- New Jersey's first game without Cory Schneider did not go well, buddy. Keith Kinkaid only stopped 17 of 22 shots in the loss.
- I once had a doctor named Kinkaid. Every time he makes a save I mutter "just what the doctor ordered!" to myself.
- I ... I just thought you should know that.
- I don't know why.
- I'm sorry.
- Pensburgh described the Penguins as "opening a can of whoop-ass" on the Devils. Which is actually fairly accurate. Though I'm not sure a penguin can actually open any kinds of cans with those flippers. (Wings? I don't understand bird anatomy, guys.)
- Cal saved the day for the Islanders. I could be referring to Cal Clutterbuck, Calvin de Haan or John Calvin. You'll just have to click this link to find out.
- Once again, the Rangers defense left so much to be desired.
- The Oilers won again, which either speaks to their potential or the Jets' lack of potential. I'll let you decide.
- Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin keep slumping.
- Here's how the Blackhawks' cap situation stacks up next year.
- We ranked the World Cup of Hockey jerseys so you could get mad about it.
- The Jets may have lost, but one of their fans wins Fan of the Year for this amazing hat.
- Toronto's rookies broke out the snipes this weekend.
- The Eastern Conference playoff race is taking shape even as the Lightning and Ducks try to shake up the races by themselves.