There's no mystery why the New Jersey Devils missed the playoffs a year after facing the Los Angeles Kings for Stanley Cup.
Key injuries to Marty Brodeur and Ilya Kovalchuk led to major slumps in the lockout-shortened 48-game season. The players who needed to step up with the stars out didn't. The team played poorly in overtime, and the penalty kill slipped from the best in the league to 20th overall.
So despite an Eastern Conference-best 8-1-3 start, the Devils will watch the playoffs on television.
Being a couple of wins away from a fourth championship in franchise history 10 months ago meant nothing Monday. Players stuffed their gear into travel bags, shook hands and said goodbye.
Changes will be made, but coach Pete DeBoer will stay.