Do you believe in ... never mind

New Jersey is left with virtually no chance at making the playoffs

Originally Published: February 1, 2011
By Timo Seppa | Hockey Prospectus
New Jersey DevilsJohn O'Boyle/US PresswireThings haven't gone as planned for the New Jersey Devils this season.

It's been a bad season for the New Jersey Devils. Now how's that for an understatement?

Think about this: Even with a perfect 33-0-0 record for the remainder of the season, the NHL's current last-place team (16-30-3, 35 points, .357 points percentage) would still fall two points short of last season's 103 points. That is what you would call digging a hole.

More to the point, New Jersey would have to play absolutely dominating .803 hockey over its remaining 33 games (25-5-3, or an equivalent record) merely to reach 88 points, the lowest point total of any playoff qualifier in the post-lockout NHL (last season's Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers). Only one team has matched such a commanding stretch this season -- and only exactly so -- and that was the scorching-hot Vancouver Canucks of Oct. 22 through Jan. 7. Not even the Pittsburgh Penguins, with their 13-game winning streak chronicled in HBO's "24/7," can compare. Their best 33-game stretch was 23-7-3 (.742). And even if the Devils do get to 88 points, they still have only about a 20 percent chance of advancing to the postseason because everything else has to break right.

So there's no need for beating around the bush: The Devils' 2010-11 season is effectively over.

Where did it all go wrong? Where can it get better in 2011-12? Well, lots of places:

To read the rest of Timo Seppa's story on the issues plaguing the New Jersey Devils, as well as his take on what has to happen for them to make the playoffs, become an ESPN Insider today.