NEWARK, N.J. — The Devils aren’t ready to start examining what went wrong in a third straight non-playoff season.
There will be plenty of time for that next week and over the summer when general manager and president Lou Lamoriello examines why a franchise that used to be an annual postseason participant has missed the playoffs four times in five seasons.
A new coach will have to be found and the roster is going to have to be re-worked, preferably with a big scorer added.
That’s the future though. The players had one thought Monday, making up for their performance in a 6-1 loss to the Rangers in New York on Saturday. The players are looking to rebound Tuesday night in their final home game.
“It’s a rival game,” veteran center Scott Gomez said Monday after practice. “You get a chance to play a team that gave you a pretty good whipping. You bet. We’ve got pride over here.”
While the Devils outshot the Rangers 36-32 at Madison Square Garden, they were never in the game after the first period. Rick Nash scored his career-best 42nd goal early and Keith Yandle and Dominic Moore tallied goals 25 seconds apart later in the period to make it 3-0.
The Devils didn’t score until the closing minutes when all that was left to be decided was whether Henrik Lundqvist would get a shutout.
New Jersey goaltender Cory Schneider didn’t last the opening period. He was replaced after the third goal.
Schneider will start again on Tuesday. He is eager to play.
“I’m definitely not happy, myself,” Schneider said. “We’re not happy with anything about that game so I am looking forward to playing again and getting another chance at them.”
Schneider said the Devils have to be tougher, make the Rangers earn their space on the ice and have to compete a little more. He also has to make saves, something he did only three times on six shots Saturday.
“You can do something on every goal, every play you can always do something,” Schneider said.
Devils leading goal scorer Mike Cammalleri was thinking more of the fans when asked about the last home game.
“It hasn’t been a season that has left us where we want to be,” he said. “You’d like to leave them with a good feeling and a good performance so they are excited about coming back next year.”
Defenseman Mark Fraser said the Devils also need to send a message to the Rangers, who have won all three games this season.
“Although we look at it as wanting some redemption, they are a rival we are going to face many times in the future and we don’t want this season series to end in the fashion it did,” he said. “There is still plenty to play for. This is a proud group and we want to let them know it’s not going to be easy for them to walk over us the way they did.”
The Devils will close out there season in Florida with games against the Lightning on Thursday and the Panthers on Saturday.
“It’s a big character test for us,” forward Adam Henrique said. “After what happened last game we have to show up and play for a full 60 minutes and leave everything on the line.”