After what seemed like a month since the Eastern Conference Finals ended, the Stanley Cup Finals got under way on Wednesday night. Things didn’t go well for the home team in Game 1. Both teams played very sloppy at times, but the Devils could never get their game going the way they wanted to and needed to on Wednesday. The Devils nearly stole the game in overtime, but they broke down defensively and completely lost Anze Kopitar, who had the breakaway that resulted in the game-winning goal for the Kings. Los Angeles is still undefeated on the road in these playoffs and lead the series, 1-0.
For the fifth time in franchise history the New Jersey Devils will be playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. I was fortunate enough to be at Game 7 of 2003 when the Devils won their most recent championship. I stood next to my Dad as the seconds ticked down and Gary Bettman walked out, grabbed Lord Stanley’s Cup and handed it off to Scott Stevens. If you ask me what my best Devils’ memory is, well without a doubt, it’s that game. Now, when you ask my father, he’s often quick to say watching me watching the Devils win the Cup. That always resonated with me.
Three stars of the game:
3rd star: Bryce Salvador (1 goal, 1 assist)
2nd star: Martin Brodeur (28 saves)
1st star: Zach Parise (2 goals, 1 assist)
It’s funny what a difference two days can make. On Saturday afternoon, the Devils played a decent all-around game, but you need to outscore your opponent to win games (at least that’s the only known way to win as far as I know), and the Devils couldn’t beat Henrik Lundqvist on Saturday. Two days and a few tweaks to the lineup later, the Devils tied the series once again with the Rangers in a strong, 4-1 victory at the Prudential Center in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Stanley Cup Playoffs: Round 3
New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils
8:00 P.M. ET
Radio: Bloomberg 1130 AM
Well, here we are again, down 2-1 in a series, but still with a fighting chance. It’s a best of 7 for a reason, but when you’re dominating the games and not putting up goals, it’s frustrating. Yet, here the Devils sit, heading into Game 4 tonight, down in the series.
For tonight’s game, Pete DeBoer has decided to shake up the lines a bit and Jacob Josefson will make his first playoff appearance. That leaves veteran Petr Sykora on the outside looking in. It seems the fans have been torn about this decision. On one hand you have Sykora’s experience and presence, but on the other hand you have a rookie that will bring fresh legs to the line-up. Hopefully Josefson is ready to bring his A-Game because the Devils need it.
I’m going to make this a relatively short recap, because I don’t think any Devils fans really want to think about Saturday afternoon’s Game 3 at all, and I don’t blame you. It was a frustrating game.
From the drop of the puck in the first period to the final horn in the third period, the Devils were by far the superior team on the Prudential Center ice. The Devils owned puck possession, shot attempts, shots on goal (36-21) and pretty much every other statistic except goals. The main, if not only reason for the goose egg in the goal department was the superb play of Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. He kept his team in a game that they had no business winning. There, I said it. They got outplayed dramatically for 40 minutes, then got a quick strike by Dan Girardi on a power play, and a tip-in by Chris Kreider shortly after. Other than that, and some strong saves by Martin Brodeur, including a tremendous stop on Ryan Callahan’s rebound attempt, the Rangers pretty much sat back and tried to contain the Devils.