Devils Top Buffalo, Secure Second, and Set to Play Philly

I like the shootout.  I really do.   It’s an exciting way to end a regular season hockey game to determine one measly little point which, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t really add up to much.  At the end of the shootout, you go home knowing your favorite team won or lost with an exciting finish that kept you on the edge of your seat.  Sure, it’s not the traditional tie that we were so accustomed to and after 65 minutes, a little upset that what you just witnessed didn’t really have an impact and no one was deemed better than the other.

(And now for the dislike portion) I do not find it acceptable that the shootout determined the fact that the Rangers were eliminated from Playoff contention and the Flyers were able to make their way into the playoffs.  There is a reason why the shootout doesn’t play a role in the post-season, because it’s not proper to end a true competitive match that determines championship status based on what is essentially a skills competition.  Sunday’s game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers, for all intents and purposes, was a playoff game as the winner would move on to continue playing and the loser would be done until next season.

This is your only warning NHL.  You have been put on notice that this is not acceptable.

Remember that stupid rules have been overturned very quickly after the season or post-season ends.  Remember that "Skate in the Crease" rule that negated goal after goal if a players skate happened to be in the crease before the puck was?  Oh, and remember that Stanley Cup winning goal that was scored that was technically illegally because a player had his skate in the crease before the puck entered the crease? And remember how quickly, I think it was no more than 15 seconds, after the goal was scored, the NHL repealed that rule for the upcoming season?

And now we move away from the Ranting section…

Sunday the Devils defeated the Buffalo Sabres in a very even matchup that left the teams tied at 1 after nearly 60 minutes of regulation.  Nearly.

Dear Buffalo Sabres,

It has come to my attention that your goaltender was not made aware of the likelihood he would be requested to come off of the ice in the event the score was tied when the third period is nearly over.  As we at home were made aware, a tie game would give the Devils the one point they needed to secure second place in the Eastern Conference.  Your netminder for Sunday’s game was not aware of this fact.

As a reminder, you may want to use facilities available to you, like verbal communication during stoppages in play or even when you or the opposing team calls a time out, to make sure your goaltender is kept abreast of these types of situations.

Yours truly,

~ A Happy Devils Fan

In the event you missed Sunday’s game, the Buffalo Sabres needed a win in regulation to take second spot away from the Devils.  In every other possible situation, the Devils would secure the second seed in the East and gain further home-ice advantage.

So with just under a minute left, Buffalo’s coaching staff, players, and training personnel stood waved frantically, and jumped to get their netminder’s attention to have him come off the ice for the extra man.

Patrick Lalime, Buffalo’s goalie, did eventually get to the bench, with about 3 seconds remaining and not before he knocked over the referee at his end of the ice.  By the time he reached the bench, Jamie Langenbrunner scored the game winning goal in a very unusual empty net situation.

So what now?  The Devils now are set to play the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, which by NHL standing regulations, is the Philadelphia Flyers.

Is this a good or bad thing?  Will the fact that the Devils lost to Philadelphia 5 times out of 6 affect them?  These issues are all for a different post sometime on Tuesday.