5 Worst Playoff Experiences In New Jersey Devils History

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 28: A dejected Brian Gionta #14 of the New Jersey Devils leaves the ice after losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Semifinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Prudential Center on April 28, 2009 in Newark, New Jersey. The Hurricanes defetaed the Devils 4-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 28: A dejected Brian Gionta #14 of the New Jersey Devils leaves the ice after losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Semifinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Prudential Center on April 28, 2009 in Newark, New Jersey. The Hurricanes defetaed the Devils 4-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Mark Messier and the New York Rangers (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

3. The Guarantee/Matteau, Matteau, Matteau

This one really hurt for a myriad of reasons. For one, this was the best Devils team the franchise had ever seen. Martin Brodeur was putting together the beginnings of a Hall of Fame career. Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer were one of the best defensive duos in the league (even if they didn’t always play alongside each other). Now, the Devils were heading into the Eastern Conference Finals against their biggest rivals and the team they had to pay just to move to New Jersey.

The New York Rangers were huge favorites coming into the series. They had the stars, the experience, the Cup history, and they were the team from the biggest city in the world. John MacLean was the Devils’ biggest offensive star, and he wasn’t exactly a perennial All-Star. This was a ragtag group that could find scoring on all four lines. In this series against the Rangers, no one scored more than five points. Claude Lemieux and Bernie Nicholls led the team in points. Valeri Zelepukin led the team in goals.

So, when the Devils took a 3-2 lead in the series, Devils fans were riding high. They finally had a chance to one-up their cross-river rivals on their way to the Stanley Cup Final. Unfortunately, the second-most famous guarantee in New York sports history led to one of the best performances of Mark Messier’s career. Messier told reporters before Game 6 that “we are going to win and force a Game 7”. Messier went on to score a hat trick in Game 6 and pretty much single-handedly forced Game 7.

The Devils still had a chance to turn it around and go to the Stanley Cup Final. Unfortunately, the name Stephane Matteau would live on in the nightmares of Devils fans forever. The Devils tied the game when Zelepukin scored with eight seconds left in the 3rd period. It was the team’s first goal of the game, and it was epic. The Devils went up against a dejected Rangers team in overtime. Mike Richter and Brodeur went head to head, stopping everything. Then, Matteau takes a puck in the corner and beats Niedermayer. He takes a bad-angle shot that beats Brodeur. It was another devastating Game 7 for the Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals.