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1987–88 New Jersey Devils season

The 1987–88 New Jersey Devils season was the team's sixth season in the National Hockey League since the franchise relocated to New Jersey. The Devils finished fourth in the Patrick Division with a record of 38 wins, 36 losses, and 6 ties for 82 points, garnering the first winning record in the franchise's 14-year history.

On the final day of the regular season, the Devils were tied with their nemesis, the New York Rangers, for the final playoff spot in the Patrick Division. After New York defeated the Quebec Nordiques 3–0, all eyes were on the Devils, who were playing the Blackhawks in Chicago. The Devils trailed 3–2 midway through the third period, but John MacLean scored to tie the game, and with two minutes left in overtime, he added the winning goal. Although the Rangers and Devils both finished with 82 points, the Devils had one more win, sending them to the playoffs for the second time in franchise history, but the first time in New Jersey.[1]

The Devils rode the momentum of this victory into a surprisingly deep playoff run, ousting the New York Islanders in six games in the Division Semi-finals and the Washington Capitals in seven games in the Division Finals. They then met the Boston Bruins in the Wales Conference Finals and stretched the series to seven games, but finally fell short in the seventh game (see below).

Offseason

Hoping to light a spark under the team, team owner John McMullen hired Providence College coach and athletic director Lou Lamoriello as team president in April 1987. Lamoriello appointed himself general manager shortly before the 1987–88 season. This move came as a considerable surprise to NHL circles; although Lamoriello had been a college coach for 19 years, he had never played, coached, or managed in the NHL and was almost unknown outside the American college hockey community.

Regular season

Season standings

Patrick Division
GP W L T GF GA Pts
New York Islanders 80 39 31 10 308 267 88
Philadelphia Flyers 80 38 33 9 292 292 85
Washington Capitals 80 38 33 9 281 249 85
New Jersey Devils 80 38 36 6 295 296 82
New York Rangers 80 36 34 10 300 283 82
Pittsburgh Penguins 80 36 35 9 319 316 81
[2]Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against

Note: Teams that qualified for the playoffs are highlighted in bold.

Sean Burke

Sean Burke was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the second round of the 1985 NHL Entry Draft. He earned national attention from his international play. He backstopped Canada's junior team to a silver medal in the 1986 World Junior Championships and a fourth-place finish for the national men's team at the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

Burke went from the Olympics to the Devils. He started 11 games for the Devils in the 1987–88 NHL season, including an overtime victory against the Chicago Blackhawks on the final night of the season that qualified the Devils for their first playoff series.

Dubbed a "rookie sensation", Burke helped the Devils go on a playoff roll, defeating the division-leader New York Islanders in the first round in six games and then the Washington Capitals in seven games. Burke was one game away from the Stanley Cup Finals but lost in Game 7 of the Wales Conference finals to the Boston Bruins.

Game log

# R Date Score Opponent Record
1 W October 9, 1987 6–3 Pittsburgh Penguins (season) 1–0–0
2 L October 10, 1987 2–5 @ Toronto Maple Leafs (season) 1–1–0
3 W October 14, 1987 3–1 Hartford Whalers (season) 2–1–0
4 W October 16, 1987 4–3 Montreal Canadiens (season) 3–1–0
5 L October 17, 1987 3–4 OT @ Hartford Whalers (season) 3–2–0
6 W October 21, 1987 5–4 @ Pittsburgh Penguins (season) 4–2–0
7 W October 23, 1987 5–3 New York Islanders (season) 5–2–0
8 L October 24, 1987 1–2 @ New York Islanders (season) 5–3–0
9 W October 27, 1987 4–0 Philadelphia Flyers (season) 6–3–0
10 W October 31, 1987 6–5 Edmonton Oilers (season) 7–3–0
11 L November 3, 1987 3–6 @ New York Islanders (season) 7–4–0
12 W November 5, 1987 5–3 St. Louis Blues (season) 8–4–0
13 W November 7, 1987 4–1 Washington Capitals (season) 9–4–0
14 T November 8, 1987 3–3 OT @ Philadelphia Flyers (season) 9–4–1
15 W November 10, 1987 3–2 @ New York Rangers (season) 10–4–1
16 T November 12, 1987 1–1 OT Winnipeg Jets (season) 10–4–2
17 L November 14, 1987 4–6 Detroit Red Wings (season) 10–5–2
18 W November 18, 1987 4–3 Philadelphia Flyers (season) 11–5–2
19 W November 20, 1987 5–2 Chicago Blackhawks (season) 12–5–2
20 L November 21, 1987 1–2 @ Montreal Canadiens (season) 12–6–2
21 L November 23, 1987 2–9 @ Calgary Flames (season) 12–7–2
22 W November 25, 1987 8–7 OT @ Edmonton Oilers (season) 13–7–2
23 L November 27, 1987 2–4 @ Vancouver Canucks (season) 13–8–2
24 T November 29, 1987 2–2 OT @ Los Angeles Kings (season) 13–8–3
25 W December 3, 1987 4–2 St. Louis Blues (season) 14–8–3
26 L December 5, 1987 2–3 @ Quebec Nordiques (season) 14–9–3
27 T December 6, 1987 1–1 OT @ Philadelphia Flyers (season) 14–9–4
28 W December 9, 1987 2–1 Los Angeles Kings (season) 15–9–4
29 L December 11, 1987 1–5 Calgary Flames (season) 15–10–4
30 L December 12, 1987 3–5 @ New York Islanders (season) 15–11–4
31 L December 16, 1987 3–9 @ New York Rangers (season) 15–12–4
32 L December 17, 1987 4–7 Pittsburgh Penguins (season) 15–13–4
33 W December 19, 1987 3–1 @ Minnesota North Stars (season) 16–13–4
34 L December 20, 1987 1–4 @ Winnipeg Jets (season) 16–14–4
35 W December 23, 1987 6–2 @ Pittsburgh Penguins (season) 17–14–4
36 L December 26, 1987 3–5 New York Rangers (season) 17–15–4
37 W December 28, 1987 6–4 New York Islanders (season) 18–15–4
38 L December 30, 1987 3–4 Washington Capitals (season) 18–16–4
39 T January 2, 1988 1–1 OT @ Hartford Whalers (season) 18–16–5
40 L January 4, 1988 3–6 Los Angeles Kings (season) 18–17–5
41 L January 7, 1988 3–6 Vancouver Canucks (season) 18–18–5
42 W January 9, 1988 4–3 @ Minnesota North Stars (season) 19–18–5
43 W January 10, 1988 7–5 @ Philadelphia Flyers (season) 20–18–5
44 L January 13, 1988 3–5 Quebec Nordiques (season) 20–19–5
45 W January 15, 1988 7–3 Toronto Maple Leafs (season) 21–19–5
46 L January 16, 1988 2–4 @ New York Islanders (season) 21–20–5
47 L January 19, 1988 4–6 @ Washington Capitals (season) 21–21–5
48 L January 21, 1988 2–3 OT Detroit Red Wings (season) 21–22–5
49 L January 22, 1988 3–7 @ Buffalo Sabres (season) 21–23–5
50 L January 25, 1988 2–5 Buffalo Sabres (season) 21–24–5
51 W January 28, 1988 6–3 Pittsburgh Penguins (season) 22–24–5
52 W January 29, 1988 3–2 OT Chicago Blackhawks (season) 23–24–5
53 W February 1, 1988 5–4 @ Calgary Flames (season) 24–24–5
54 L February 3, 1988 5–8 @ Edmonton Oilers (season) 24–25–5
55 L February 5, 1988 1–5 @ Vancouver Canucks (season) 24–26–5
56 L February 7, 1988 3–6 @ Boston Bruins (season) 24–27–5
57 W February 11, 1988 4–2 Montreal Canadiens (season) 25–27–5
58 L February 12, 1988 3–4 @ Detroit Red Wings (season) 25–28–5
59 W February 14, 1988 7–2 @ Toronto Maple Leafs (season) 26–28–5
60 L February 17, 1988 3–4 Washington Capitals (season) 26–29–5
61 W February 19, 1988 6–3 New York Rangers (season) 27–29–5
62 L February 21, 1988 1–4 Boston Bruins (season) 27–30–5
63 L February 24, 1988 1–3 Winnipeg Jets (season) 27–31–5
64 L February 26, 1988 1–2 New York Rangers (season) 27–32–5
65 W February 28, 1988 8–6 Minnesota North Stars (season) 28–32–5
66 L March 1, 1988 3–5 @ Washington Capitals (season) 28–33–5
67 L March 2, 1988 1–6 Washington Capitals (season) 28–34–5
68 W March 5, 1988 7–6 OT @ Boston Bruins (season) 29–34–5
69 W March 6, 1988 4–2 Philadelphia Flyers (season) 30–34–5
70 L March 8, 1988 4–7 @ New York Rangers (season) 30–35–5
71 W March 12, 1988 6–5 @ Philadelphia Flyers (season) 31–35–5
72 L March 17, 1988 3–4 Quebec Nordiques (season) 31–36–5
73 W March 20, 1988 4–2 @ Washington Capitals (season) 32–36–5
74 W March 24, 1988 8–2 @ St. Louis Blues (season) 33–36–5
75 T March 25, 1988 2–2 OT @ Buffalo Sabres (season) 33–36–6
76 W March 27, 1988 7–2 New York Rangers (season) 34–36–6
77 W March 29, 1988 4–0 Pittsburgh Penguins (season) 35–36–6
78 W March 31, 1988 7–2 @ Pittsburgh Penguins (season) 36–36–6
79 W April 2, 1988 5–2 New York Islanders (season) 37–36–6
80 W April 3, 1988 4–3 OT @ Chicago Blackhawks (season) 38–36–6

Playoffs

The team made it all the way to the conference finals, but lost to the Boston Bruins in seven games. In that series, head coach Jim Schoenfeld verbally abused referee Don Koharski, screaming obscenties and hollering, "Have another doughnut, you fat pig!" The incident resulted in a suspension for Schoenfeld, which the franchise appealed to the New Jersey Superior Court. This unprecedented appeal to authority outside the NHL gave the Devils a preliminary stay of the coach's suspension. In protest, referee Dave Newell and the assigned linesmen boycotted the next game. After more than an hour's delay, amateur officials were tracked down in the stands and worked the game wearing yellow practice sweaters. To resolve the incident, the NHL suspended Schoenfeld for the next game. Schoenfeld later admitted he regretted his comments.[3]

Patrick Division semi-finals vs. New York Islanders

Date Away Score Home Score OT
April 6 New Jersey 3 New York 4 (OT)
April 7 New Jersey 3 New York 2
April 9 New York 0 New Jersey 3
April 10 New York 5 New Jersey 4 (OT)
April 12 New Jersey 4 New York 2
April 14 New York 5 New Jersey 6

Patrick Division finals vs. Washington Capitals

Date Away Score Home Score
April 18 New Jersey 1 Washington 3
April 20 New Jersey 5 Washington 2
April 22 Washington 4 New Jersey 10
April 24 Washington 4 New Jersey 1
April 26 New Jersey 3 Washington 1
April 28 Washington 7 New Jersey 2
April 30 New Jersey 3 Washington 2

Prince of Wales Conference Finals vs. Boston Bruins

Date Away Score Home Score OT
May 2 New Jersey 3 Boston 5
May 4 New Jersey 3 Boston 2 (OT)
May 6 Boston 6 New Jersey 1
May 8 Boston 1 New Jersey 3
May 10 New Jersey 1 Boston 7
May 12 Boston 3 New Jersey 6
May 14 New Jersey 2 Boston 6

Player stats

Forwards

Note: GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; PIM = Penalties in minutes

Player GP G A Pts PIM
Kirk Muller 80 37 57 94 114
Aaron Broten 80 26 57 83 80
Pat Verbeek 73 46 31 77 227
Patrik Sundström 78 15 36 51 42
John MacLean 76 23 16 39 147
Claude Loiselle 68 17 18 35 121
Mark Johnson 54 14 19 33 14
Doug Sulliman 59 16 14 30 22
Brendan Shanahan 65 7 19 26 131
Doug Brown 70 14 11 25 20
Andy Brickley 45 8 14 22 14

Defensemen

Note: GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; PIM = Penalties in minutes

Player GP G A Pts PIM
Bruce Driver 74 15 40 55 68
Joe Cirella 80 8 31 39 191
Tom Kurvers 56 5 29 34 46
Craig Wolanin 78 6 25 31 170
Jack O'Callahan 50 7 19 26 97
Jim Korn 52 8 13 21 140
Randy Velischek 51 3 9 12 66
Ken Daneyko 80 5 7 12 239

Goaltending

Note: GP = Games played; W = Wins; L = Losses; T = Ties; SO = Shutouts; GAA = Goals against average

Player GP W L T SO GAA
Alain Chevrier 45 18 19 3 1 3.77
Bob Sauvé 34 10 16 3 2 3.56
Sean Burke 13 10 1 0 1 3.05

Draft picks

Rd # Pick # Player Nat Pos Team (League) Notes
1 2 Brendan Shanahan  Canada LW London Knights (OHL)
2 23 Ricard Persson  Sweden D Leksands IF (Elitserien)
3 44 No third-round pick[4]
4 65 Brian Sullivan  United States RW Springfield Olympics (NEJHL)
5 86 Kevin Dean  United States D Culver Military Academy (Indiana)
6 107 Ben Hankinson  United States RW Edina H.S. (Minnesota)
7 128 Tom Neziol  Canada LW Miami University (CCHA)
8 149 Jim Dowd  United States C Brick Township H.S. (New Jersey) [5]
9 170 John Blessman  Canada D Toronto Marlboros (OHL)
10 191 Pete Fry  Canada G Victoria Cougars (WHL)
11 212 Alain Charland  Canada C Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
12 233 No twelfth-round pick[6]

References

  • Devils on Hockey Database
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