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SCF Game 4 Recap: Devils put the brooms back in the closet

2012 Stanley Cup Finals, New Jersey Devils vs LA Kings(headline by @radametz)

Three stars of the game:

3rd star: Martin Brodeur (21 saves)

2nd star: Drew Doughty (Goal)

1st star: Adam Henrique (Game-winning goal)

There’s been a theme in these playoffs for the Devils: resiliency and clutch scoring from Adam Henrique.  Those two factors surfaced once again, as the Devils fought off elimination and beat the Kings, 3-1.  They now trail the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, 3-1.  Both teams will now travel 3,000 miles for Game 5 in New Jersey on Saturday night, where the Devils will look to end the Kings’ dominance on the road.  Here’s how they got it done on Wednesday night.

The Devils didn’t get off to the start they were hoping for, as Zach Parise took a penalty just three minutes into the game.  The Kings’ power play had been dormant until Game 3, when it produced a pair of goals.  Martin Brodeur and the Devils stood tall, as Marty juggling, yet held onto a point shot from Alec Martinez.  Brodeur was forced to make three saves on the Kings’ first power play.  Shortly after, the Devils had just about four minutes of power play time, on two separate penalties by the Kings.  They couldn’t get anything going on the first chance, but started to get some chances on the second power play.

Jonathan Quick matched the Devils, shot-for-shot and save-for-save.  His best save of the period came as Petr Sykora, back in the lineup for Game 4, cut into the slot and fired one glove side, but Quick snatched it.  Quick then stopped Ilya Kovalchuk’s wrist shot and Zach Parise’s rebound at the side of the net.  He later made another glove save on a shot by Alexei Ponikarovsky.  Meanwhile, at the other end of the ice, Justin Williams nearly gave the Kings a 1-0 lead late in the period, but his shot rang off the goal post behind Brodeur.  It was a rare display of luck going in the Devils’ favor in the series so far, and it kept the game scoreless after one period.

The Devils had to kill off a carry-over penalty on Bryce Salvador to start the second period, but they did it with ease.  Immediately after the successful penalty kill, Ilya Kovalchuk almost scored at the other end.  He saw a puck bounce away from him, and he fanned on the shot right in front of the net.  The Devils put some pressure on Quick in the opening minutes of the second period, but still couldn’t get anything past him.  The Kings started to warm up offensively, and it looked as if the Devils might be in trouble.  Luckily, Brodeur was up to the task and had another strong period.  Unfortunately, it was still tied after two periods.

In the third period, the Devils controlled most of the play offensively and finally started to forecheck in the Kings’ end consistently.  A strong shot from the left circle by Zach Parise nearly beat Quick, as he looked behind him, but he trapped it.  Parise appeared to be shaken up later, as he leg got caught in a pile-up, but he shook if off and remained in the game.  Eventually, they finally managed to beat Quick.  The play started with the forecheck, and eventually Bryce Salvador got his point shot on Quick, and the puck rebounded to Patrik Elias, who backhanded it home for the Devils’ first goal since Steve Bernier’s deflection early in the third period of Game 2.  The puck got through the attempted shot-blocking of the Kings, and because they tried to block the shot, they left Elias wide open near the net.  It was Elias’ fifth goal of the playoffs.

The lead, the Devils’ first of the series, lasted all of one minute.  David Clarkson was whistled for a very questionable boarding call on Dustin Brown, and the Kings went back on their power play.  Four seconds and a face-off win later, Drew Doughty’s one-timer found a way through traffic and into the back of the net.  The Devils’ lead was gone, and it meant that they would need at least one more goal to force a Game 5.  They got that goal with under five minutes remaining in the third period.  Mark Fayne pinched along the neutral zone to prevent the Kings from an offensive shift.  Ponikarovsky backhanded the puck up the ice and David Clarkson threw it across to Adam Henrique high in the offensive zone.  The pass went off Henrique’s skate right to his stick, and he beat Quick stick-side under the crossbar.  The pass from Clarkson would have been intercepted had it been aimed for Henrique’s stick.  It was either fortunate or a very skilled and intelligent play by Clarkson to aim for Henrique’s skate and just as much on Henrique’s part to shoot the puck.  Let’s go with skill over luck.

With under three minutes remaining, Willie Mitchell, the former 8th round draft pick of the Devils in 1996, high-sticked Kovalchuk to put the Devils on a late power play.  They didn’t score on it, although they did come very close, including a chance for Travis Zajac on a rebound, but they took two huge minutes off the clock.  Following the power play, the Kings pulled Quick, and Ilya Kovalchuk iced the game with an empty net goal, his first career goal in the Stanley Cup Finals.  Kovalchuk battled through the apparent injury that’s been bothering him, and had a pretty decent game, in terms of creating offense overall.  The Devils won, 3-1.

Henrique is clutch.  He scored his third game-winning goal in the playoffs.  This one goes along with Game 7 in double-overtime against the Panthers and the overtime series-winning goal in Game 6 against the Rangers.  Alexei Ponikarovsky has also been clutch in these playoffs.  Four of his seven points have come on game-winning goals.  Bryce Salvador, the offensive wizard that he’s become, added a pair of assists of his own in the game.  This game, though, as so many other big games before, was made possible by the efforts of Martin Brodeur.  The Devils outshot and out-hit the Kings, but the Kings got some quality scoring chances.  Brodeur’s finest work in Game 4 came on breakaways by Simon Gagne and Dustin Penner, as well as seven saves overall in the third period to preserve the victory.

The Devils survive another day (three days, actually), as Game 5 will be at the Prudential Center on Saturday night.  They’ll look to hand the Kings their first loss on the road in the 2012 playoffs, and force the series back to L.A. again for Game 6.  There is genuine belief amongst the Devils that they can keep this going and get back in the series, as there should be.  The Devils have come within one bounce and a few inches from winning any or all of the first three games of the series, and outplayed the Kings for much of Games 2 and 3.  They held off the Kings in perhaps L.A.’s best effort of the series and won Game 4.  Although Vancouver and Phoenix also won their respective Game 4′s to force a Game 5 against the Kings previously, the Devils are confident that this wasn’t just one win to delay the Kings’ party.  They’re confident that they have started a comeback.

And after all, wouldn’t that be the perfect Hollywood ending to a fantastic NHL season?

Stanley Cup Final Game 4 Preview: Devils Need to Give Everything They’ve Got

2012 Stanley Cup Finals, New Jersey Devils vs LA KingsStanley Cup Final – Game 4

Game Time: 8:00 PM

TV: NBCSN, CBC, RDS

Radio: Bloomberg 1130 AM

Writing this preview for Game 4 is probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do this season.  Where to even begin?  Well let’s start with the obvious, the Devils are down 3-0 in the series and must win at least one game in order to avoid being swept for the first time in franchise history AND for us to be able to see one more game at The Rock this season. It’s not impossible to do, but it’s definitely one of those moments where the team needs to put everything on the line and play their hearts out.

Last game, the Devils came out like a house on fire, yet still couldn’t get anything past Jonathan Quick. The turning point came on a 5-on-3 power play where Quick stopped shot after shot to keep the Devils off the board.  Finally, on one fluky play that lead to the first goal of the game, LA was on the board and never looked back, rolling to a 4-0 victory. The Devils need to throw everything they’ve got at Quick tonight, even if that includes the kitchen sink!

It looks like Coach DeBoer has decided to shake up the line-up a bit, benching Jacob Josefson and putting in veteran Petr Sykora. Will Sykora be able to propel this team to the next level and bring the series back home? We’ll see if he can give the team a little bit of boost when they step out onto the ice tonight.

Someone needs to emerge as the hero tonight; I don’t care who it is. All I’m asking is that the Devils put everything they’ve got into tonight’s game.  They went from 4th Overall Draft pick and not making the playoffs, to the Stanley Cup Finals in one season.  No matter what happens, this has been a great season and I am proud of what this team has accomplished, but I’m not quite ready for it to end just yet.  I still have hope and I’m still believin’!

ONE SHIFT AT A TIME, ONE PERIOD AT A TIME, ONE GAME AT A TIME!!

LET’S GO DEVILS!!

Devils Projected Line-up:

Parise – Zajac – Kovalchuk

Sykora – Elias – Zubrus

Ponikarovsky – Henrique – Clarkson

Carter – Gionta – Bernier

Greene – Fayne

Salvador – Zidlicky

Volchenkov – Tallinder

Brodeur

Hedberg

Kings Projected Line-up:

Brown – Kopitar – Williams

Penner – Richards – Carter

King – Stoll – Lewis

Gagne – Fraser – Nolan

Scuderi – Doughty

Mitchell – Voynov

Martinez – Greene

Quick

Bernier

SCF Game 3 Recap: Devils blanked 4-0, down 3-0 in series

2012 Stanley Cup Finals, New Jersey Devils vs LA KingsThere really isn’t a whole lot to say after last night’s game for Devils fans.  They continued to struggle offensively for many reasons, including the brilliant goaltending on Jonathan Quick for the Kings.  Martin Brodeur wasn’t able to keep the game scoreless long enough to keep his team in it, and judging by Quick’s performance, Brodeur might have had to keep the game scoreless into an overtime or two if the Devils were going to have a shot at getting back in the series.  Instead, Quick shut the Devils out, and the Kings doubled their goal total from the first two games in Game 3, cruising to a 4-0 victory. Read the rest of this entry

Stanley Cup Finals Game 3: NJ Devils at LA Kings

2012 Stanley Cup Finals, New Jersey Devils vs LA KingsStanley Cup Playoffs – Round 4

New Jersey Devils (12-8) at Los Angeles Kings (14-2)

8:00 PM E.T.

TV: NBC Sports Network

Radio: WFAN 660 AM

The first two games of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals haven’t gone the Devils’ way.  That isn’t something that an expert analyst has to tell you.  The Devils dropped Games 1 and 2 at home, both by identical 2-1 overtime finals, with Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter scoring goals in the extra period for the Kings.  If you look at the 2-0 series deficit that the Devils now face and the seemingly insurmountable task of defeating the Kings four out of five times to win the Stanley Cup, especially considering the Kings’ 14-2 record in the playoffs, there’s little reason for optimism, but in fact, there is much more reason to believe than those numbers might dictate.  If you’re in the mood for an optimistic view on the series, read on.  If you don’t feel like being optimistic, you probably shouldn’t read on.

Read the rest of this entry

SCF Game 2 Recap: Another night, another OT loss

2012 Stanley Cup Finals, New Jersey Devils vs LA Kings

Jeff Carter’s goal 13:42 into overtime in Game 2 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals was the second overtime win of the series for the Kings, and third straight overtime win overall, dating back to the Western Conference Finals.  That puts the Devils in a 2-0 series hole, with the series shifting to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4.  It’s a deep hole to be in, but it isn’t over yet.

Read the rest of this entry

Stanely Cup Finals Game 2: Devils & Fans Look to Take Back Home Ice Advantage!

2012 Stanley Cup Finals, New Jersey Devils vs LA Kings

Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round 4
Los Angeles Kings at New Jersey Devils
8:00 P.M. ET
TV: NBC
Radio: Bloomberg 1130 AM

Kings lead series 1-0.

New Jersey didn’t come out and play the way they wanted on Wednesday night. Despite being outplayed and having trouble maintaining a forecheck, the Devils still had a chance to squeak out a win. In Game 1 the Devils missed some open net opportunities. Look for the Devils to capitalize tonight on any opportunities they get, by taking more shots on net. Keep your eye out, as well,  for the adjustment on the forecheck. The Kings quickly transitioned the puck out of their zone by using the middle of the ice.

The big story, that all main stream media has been building up, will hopefully be laid to rest. The Kings are 10-0 on the road this post season. When a stat or streak has been mentioned endlessly, it is just meant to be broken.

Read the rest of this entry

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