The New Jersey Devils fought their way to the Stanley Cup Final, but now that they’re in it with the almost perfect LA Kings, they have very little to show for it. LA is steamrolling their way to the Cup and is up 3-0 over the Devils in this best of 7 series. It could all be over on Wednesday in LA which would be the best possible ending to LA’s post-season Cinderella run. Marty Brodeur has said that he may return next season and after this run, he may have to, since this is not the kind of series that you want to hang your hat on, especially not for a goaltender of his caliber.
This is the story line of this series: New Jersey is doing what most teams have done when faced with LA’s high pressure game style and that is to play a reactionary game and make bad decisions on the fly with the puck. The only person on the ice who has been able to match LA’s compete level has been Marty Brodeur, who has been the best player for the Devils throughout this match up. New Jersey’s best line has been their fourth line, grinding and taking chances against a very confident LA defense.
The stars have burnt out for New Jersey. Parise has speed, but no muscle. Kovalchuk seems to be looking for the ‘perfect’ shot, holding on too long, passing it off and suffering from Spezza syndrome. He won’t just shoot. He has the most dangerous shot on the roster and his $100 million price tag is a tribute to that. For a player like that not to shoot every chance he gets in a high stakes game like the Cup Final is just criminal. Kovalchuk’s humongous contract caused giggles and groans across the league when he was signed; all those people probably feel vindicated now.
New Jersey had countless chances to get back into this game before their third period 5 alarm meltdown. Power plays, including a 5 on 3 opportunity in the first period, were literally falling from the LA smog ridden sky for the Devils. And they failed on every single one. Their second period was undoubtedly the worst that they had played all post-season. They couldn’t even pass properly anymore.
LA is doing all the same things right. They don’t give up on plays, they forecheck hard, play a great cycle game and are very physical. Their persistence alone has helped them score goals on second, third, fourth and fifth chances. Their physical prowess cannot be matched by the Devils, even if the physical differences are statistically slight. They never stopped being hungry in this Cup Run and now total victory is one game away.
They have the Devils in their clutches and all they need to do now is squeeze. The Devils are choking and there may be no maneuver to save them.
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.