New Jersey Devils: Beat Leafs, clinch playoff berth

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 05: Miles Wood
NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 05: Miles Wood /

The New Jersey Devils have clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs!

The New Jersey Devils are a playoff hockey team! It has been years since the red and black faithful said that. However, the dream and then expectation has come to fruition as the Devs beat the Leafs in a tough home win to clinch.

To say the road to the post-season for the Devils has been easy would not be accurate. Yes, the Eastern conference has some lowly teams but the Devils overcame more than all of them.

If you have been reading our Devils page, you know how happy the narrative is for the Devils this season. But in grandiose Devils fashion, even the game they clinched was a new level of impressive.

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The Devils went into Thursday night needing just two points to make the playoffs. Sounds easy with a lot of teams coasting, right? But no. The Devils still had to overcome a feisty Maple Leafs team trying to assert their dominance in a powerful Atlantic Division.

All of that is for nothing as the Devils fought off the pressure to hold a lead and earn their first post-season birth since a magical, conference winning run in 2012.

Keith Kinkaid froze every puck towards the end as the Devs defense held on as the game vs Toronto began to close. Once the dream started to feel like a reality, the Devils never caved. They held on, played smart, and let the magic destined for them to kick in.

Aside from the fact that the Devils are not supposed to be here, they still met the criteria of every NHL Playoff team historically.

The Devils have a young, emerging star in Nico Hischier, an MVP candidate in Taylor Hall, and also two reliable goalies in Kinkaid and Cory Schneider.

This Devils roster is not a quintessential playoff one. They took their roster, their talent, their lack of talent, and made the most of it with all else aside.

Between fighting all year-long, being disciplined, well-coached, and flat-out good, it all pays off in the end.

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That is how the New Jersey Devils clinched the playoffs in 2018. It’s always more impressive when a team controls their own destiny to finish the job. The Devils did and it paid off. At the time of clinching, in their pursuit of clinching the last spot over the Devs, the Panthers had no result yet.

All the Devils had to do was get two points, that was the easiest way for them to clinch and they did.

What a season for the New Jersey Devils and their fans who have hung tough all these years.

As beautiful as it is, the Devils are just getting started.

Stay tuned!