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DeBoer seeks answers after 'difficult' finish

Monday, 04.22.2013 / 2:53 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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DeBoer seeks answers after \'difficult\' finish



 
One day after the Devils saw their playoff quest halted, head coach Peter DeBoer was still trying to figure out what went wrong.

Sunday's loss to the Rangers sealed the Devils' fate, ensuring that a season of high expectations would end without a chance to defend their Eastern Conference crown.

"It's difficult," DeBoer said Monday at AmeriHealth Pavilion. "One of the most difficult things I've gone through. I've coached teams that didn't deserve to make the playoffs. Most times, life gives you what you deserve. In this case, I don't feel that's necessarily the case, and that's what makes it more difficult, because then you're searching for the reasons why, and I don't have the answers yet."

A promising 8-1-3 start was derailed by injuries to Martin Brodeur and Ilya Kovalchuk. The Devils went 3-6-2 while Brodeur recovered from a pinched nerve from Feb. 24 to March 16, and had slipped to 13-11-6 by the time he made his next start on March 21.

But Kovalchuk hurt his shoulder in the very next game, and the ensuing 0-6-4 slide proved too much to overcome.

The Devils are 11-3-3 when both Brodeur and Kovalchuk play.

"I'm not going to use those as crutches," DeBoer said. "My job [is], you get handed 20 to 23 players and you have to find a way to have success. That's for other people to decide or analyze, what factors those things played."

Even in the face of a 10-game winless streak, the team's effort was always there.

"There's not many guys in there, if any, that I don't think [whose] hearts weren't in the right place, that didn't buy into the system and the team-first approach we had all year, and it wasn't good enough," DeBoer said.

Three games remain on the schedule: the Devils host Montreal on Tuesday, Pittsburgh Thursday, then visit Madison Square Garden for Saturday's finale.

"I think the message to the team is the same way we've approached all season," DeBoer said. "We expect nothing but professionalism and the same commitment to work and win that we've had all year. I think that's what this team's about, what this organization's about. We're not going to expect anything less than that."

He praised the work of assistants Dave Barr, Scott Stevens, and Matt Shaw, and goaltending coach Chris Terreri.

"I thought our coaching staff worked diligently, prepared this team. That's been a common theme, even when you talk to the players. I thought our coaches emptied the tank, so to speak. Any time you don't have a successful year, the entire organization gets analyzed, including myself. I'm sure that's a process Lou [Lamoriello] will go through."

• No decision had been made on whether to rest Kovalchuk in the final three games.

"Again, I'll talk to Lou," DeBoer said. "That's a meeting that I'm going to have with him probably later today."

He also hopes to get Johan Hedberg another start: "He deserves to get in a game."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 54 40 10 4 178 124 84
2 FLA 56 32 18 6 153 132 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 BOS 55 30 19 6 163 150 66
5 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 NYI 54 29 19 6 153 137 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 56 28 21 7 124 124 63
10 CAR 56 25 21 10 137 146 60
11 PHI 54 24 20 10 128 140 58
12 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
13 OTT 57 25 26 6 159 177 56
14 CBJ 57 23 28 6 144 175 52
15 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
16 TOR 54 20 25 9 127 151 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
L. Stempniak 56 15 25 6 40
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
A. Henrique 54 19 18 14 37
K. Palmieri 56 20 16 3 36
T. Zajac 48 8 19 7 27
D. Schlemko 48 6 9 -8 15
A. Larsson 56 2 11 12 13
D. Severson 52 1 12 -1 13
J. Blandisi 17 4 7 -1 11
J. Josefson 45 3 8 -14 11
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 25 16 6 .931 1.98
K. Kinkaid 3 5 1 .909 2.52
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