February 6th, 2015; a night that will live in Devils’ history for quite some time, if not forever. On that night, Patrik Elias became the first New Jersey Devil to score 400 goals with the team in their history. While it may have been in the midst of a dismal season, it was a glimmer of greatness hidden within the 2014-15 train wreck. Today we take a look back on how the goal came to be, and the significance of it.
The Game & The Goal
The “Tank for McDavid” era Toronto Maple Leafs rolled into New Jersey on the night of this goal, and while they certainly out-shot and out-hit the Devils on that night, New Jersey still thoroughly outplayed the opposition. James Reimer probably wouldn’t have been able to stop a beach ball on that night, as the first goal of the game went to Tuomo Ruutu with an assist to Mark Fraser; man that sentence alone has me excited for new blood this year! That tally would be the only one of the first period, and the teams would head to the locker rooms with the Devils up 1-0.
The start of the second period is when Patty would strike; Jon Merrill would start the play in his own end by skating the puck to the blue line; he would hit a cutting Travis Zajac with a pass just a bit beyond center ice. Travis would pivot once in the offensive zone; one Leaf goes to cover Martin Havlat on the opposite side, while three (yes, three) Leafs go after Zajac. I’m not sure if there was a miscommunication, or if Toronto thought New Jersey was changing lines, but Travis was able to thread a pass through all three to a wide open Elias. Reimer positions himself well for this goal, but has no chance as the puck goes opposite post over Reimer’s blocker side to register #400.
The Devils would go on to add a third goal in the period by Steve Bernier to make it 3-0 after 2. A little over halfway through period 3 would see Toronto ruin the shutout with a goal by Tyler Bozak on the power play after Marek Zidlicky registered a third of a Zid Trick by taking a dumb penalty. Jaromir Jagr would strike in retaliation just over 5 minutes later for the Devils making it 4-1 and giving Toronto no reason to pull Reimer for an extra attacker. That score would stand as the final.
I remember watching this game on TV when it aired live, and vaguely recall Zajac being paired with Elias for the first time in a while sometime around this game; I had forgotten who the other winger was until I re-watched the clip and saw Havlat pick up the puck for Patty! I know the team was reeling from a pair of departures at the time, but we were also icing quite a few players whose NHL careers should have been finished at least a year prior if not more. If you don’t believe me about that, here’s the box score from the game; be sure to read the scratches as well!
While I was disappointed with the season as a whole, it was a great night to see the Devils not only win, but also get to celebrate a player scoring 400 goals with the organization. Despite having 3 Stanley Cups to our team’s name and 2 other Finals appearances, the NHL still doesn’t appear to view the Devils with the level of seriousness that they view other teams. Patty chalking up #400 helped to continue legitimizing the Devils; getting to 1000 points just a month before probably helps as well. Additionally it strengthens Elias’ argument for the Hockey Hall of Fame; while he may not get in, I think that 1000+ points and two Stanley Cups at least gets you in the conversation.
I loved being able to see Patty score his 400th; I loved the sweet play that one of my current favorite Devils (Zajac) made; I loved the fact that the Devils won. 2015-16 was a step in the right direction from 2014-15; now let’s see if New Jersey can take a leap forward in 2016-17.
Now I’d like to hear your thoughts on this great Devils moment; what was you reaction to Elias reaching this milestone? Do you think it was more/just as/less important than 1000 points? Was anyone present to see the goal live? Leave any and all comments below and thank you as always for reading.