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SportsHockey

So, wait -- can the Devils make the playoffs?

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: Of course they still mathematically can, but today's news (via Tom Gulitti of The Record) that Marty Brodeur's "tweaked" knee will keep out at least tomorrow is one of the small reasons why they cannot.

The Devils are 9-1-2 in their last 12 and they have 29 games left, with 16 points to make up between their 13th-place spot and eighth in the East. If history tells us anything, the No. 8 seed in the East will need at least 85 points to get in; given the higher totals so far this season in the East than in years past, I'll up that to 88 to qualify.

So the Devs need to pick up 46 points in the last 29 games -- a 20-3-6 clip, say. Not impossible, but pretty darn close.

And setbacks like Brodeur missing a week or Ilya Kovalchuk dogging it for even a night means their chances get slimmer by the day, even with two months to go.

Worst-case scenario, of course, is the Devils continue their hot pace over the final two months, finish with a respectable 80 points and finish 11th in the East. Then they pick 8th in the June draft instead of first or second, as they would have had they continued to slide.

If anything, this recent run shows the Devs are not so far away from being a playoff team again. With a healthy Zach Parise, a committed Kovalchuk and some more experience from their young guys -- plus a coach who can motivate them -- the Devils could be back in the thick of things next season.

This season? Nope.

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