NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE ~ STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
Eastern Conference Finals
New York Rangers 2
New Jersey Devils 3
DEVILS WIN SERIES 4-2
I - NYR 3; NJD 0
II - NJD 3; NYR 2
III - NYR 3; NJD 0
IV - NJD 4; NYR 1
V - NJD 5; NYR 3
VI - NJD 3; NYR 2*
EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS
NEW JERSEY DEVILS: Lou Lamoriello's Club is Headed to Their Fifth Stanley Cup Finals.
At age forty, Marty Brodeur finally gets his revenge against the New York Rangers. Eighteen years after being sent home upon the Rangers scoring a double-overtime goal in Game Seven of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, Marty exorcises his personal demon. Maybe now he'll retire in peace, but not before he has a little more fun against the L.A. Kings. Marty stressed over and over, he was having fun this season. So, I'm sure he's having a ball right about now. And why not? The renaissance man had a great series.s
For the NHL's All-Time Career Shut-Outs leader, and for the NHL's All-Time Wins leader, Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals was career playoff win number one-hundred and ten. And save for raising the Stanley Cup three times, this was probably his most satisfying win of all. Lou Lamoriello's 1990 draft pick is taking the Devils to their fifth Stanley Cup appearance in the franchise's history.
In Game Six, Martin Brodeur faced thirty-five shots, and turned back thirty-three Rangers' pucks on goal, sending his chief nemesis back through the Holland Tunnel, a dejected team. He even recorded another assist this series. And by the way, his ability to handle the puck, and make accurate stretch passes back to mid-ice, in large part, ruined the Rangers' season long formidable forechecking.
And for Lou Lamoriello? Vindication. He has rebuilt this team into a Stanley Cup contender, again. Only one of the greatest team executives the metropolitan area has ever known, Lou Lamoriello persisted through chiding he was cap challenged, which reached a pitched level when he signed Ilya Kovalchuck to what many thought would be a franchise breaking contract. While the organization's financial footing is a whole other matter, Ilya Kovalchuck and Lou Lamoriello finally made this union work.
And the "What If's" over last season's poor start will persist. Lou Lamoriello's hiring of John MacLean to be head coach nearly doused the fires in Newark. Jacques LeMaire returned, and spear-headed a furious recovery and charge towards the playoffs. But they fell just short and missed the tournament for the first time in nearly two decades.
Lou then hired little known Peter DeBoer, whom most widely agree got shafted by the Florida Panthers. The new coach then led these Devils to a 102-point season inside a brutal Atlantic Division in which four teams amassed over 100 points. Additionally, they finished the regular season by winning six in a row. In this playoff encounter, I think Peter DeBoer played Coach Torts brilliantly. But that is not to say either coach out-coached the other. But Peter clearly won the battles along the peripheral fronts.
Lou also drafted a centerman whom I think is a tremendous hockey player; Adam Henrique. Heading into Game Two, I posted here, how at the game, I told my son to keep an eye on Henrique in the offensive zone. He's going to kill us; the Rangers that is. I thought that about Dave Clarkson as well. But it was Henrique who ultimately ended the Rangers' season. Adam Larsson was another defensive draft pick Lou made which, along with the acquisition of Marek Zidlicki, vastly contributed to the Devils' defensive success this season.
These teams split the regular season battle of the Hudson with three wins apiece. By the time New Jersey met the Rangers in the Conference Finals, New Jersey clearly emerged as the better team. While the Rangers' overall scoring came from a most ponderous and broad range of skaters this series, the Devils' forward lines dominated enough of Game Two, Four, Five and Six , to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Really, in any given game, the Parise/Zajak/Zubrus line was the best line on the ice. Then Peter DeBoer's late season creation; the Bernier/Carter/Gionta line; also at many times this series, was the best line on the ice. Those two lines wracked up points like they were playing pinball. Zach Parise in particular, put up points like no Ranger could. Ryan Carter was putting up points like no Ranger could. Travis Zajac scored his seventh goal of the playoffs in this series. He, was putting up points like no Rangers' forward could, unless you include the many Ryan Callahan deflection goals. Ilya Kovalchuck...ditto.
The Rangers needed scoring from their defensemen in order to stay alive. The Devils' back line scoring matched them. Bryce Salvador, and of course, Adam Henrique, saw to that. And before Game Five, I doubt many Ranger fans even heard of Mark Fayne. After the night he had in Game Five, not many Ranger fans will forget him.
Yea, I'm a Rangers Fan. Good Luck Devils. You out-Rangered the Rangers. You won face-offs, won the battle along the boards, had more guys in front of the net, blocked as many shots, and managed to neutralize our shot-blocking. You guys skated faster, passed better, took two games at MSG, were more disciplined, and cashed in on your opportunities in a way we couldn't. The Devils' experience rose to the top, and their ability to finish games was markedly better than that of the young Rangers.
I will continue talking Devils Hockey throughout the next round against the Los Angeles Kings.
Maaar-Teeeee! - has his Revenge. The near dynastic era of the New Jersey Devils is not over yet. They are the NHL 's 2011-2012 Eastern Conference Champions for the fifth time in their history.
* Devil's Playground Graffiti-Bushwich, BK