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A year after playing in the Stanley Cup finals, Devils wondering what happened

  • f89181762408460e300f6a706700bf8d.jpg

    New Jersey Devils' Andy Greene (6) and New York Rangers' Ryan Callahan (24) battle for the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, April 27, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Rangers won 4-0. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) (The Associated Press)

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    New Jersey Devils goalie Johan Hedberg, right, defends the net against New York Rangers' Anton Stralman, of Sweden, during the second period of the NHL hockey game Saturday, April 27, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) (The Associated Press)

  • c8b79ae7238e440e300f6a7067006e35.jpg

    New York Rangers' Ryan McDonagh (27) and New Jersey Devils' Ilya Kovalchuk, of Russia, battle for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 27, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) (The Associated Press)

  • 2a240231238a440e300f6a7067008b33.jpg

    New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, of Sweden, defends the net against New Jersey Devils' Travis Zajac, left, during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 27, 2013 at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) (The Associated Press)

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.