The New Jersey Devils survived elimination in the Stanley Cup Final with a 3-1 win and did it with a relative amount of calm. The Kings showed signs of finally cracking to the pressure of a big game and it all unraveled in the third period where all 4 goals were scored. But could this be the calm before the storm? LA has been so dominant in this series and New Jersey looked done in game three. Will they come storming back in game 5 to win it all in their opponent’s barn?
It wasn’t the kind of ending they were hoping for, but it seemed impossible for LA to be impervious to the pressure of this particular game. All the talk has centered around the fact of LA making history with a possible win, the home ice pressure, accolades, visions of parades and the presence of the Cup itself in the arena. Quick was described as something of an impenetrable fortress and the continued disappearance of New Jersey’s star players was a hot topic as well.
Despite LA putting on a brave face about the high stakes they were facing and the importance of getting a head start, the first two periods were way too tentative for LA. LA’s strength has been their physical dominance and persistent puck pursuit in this playoffs and there is no space in their game plan for timidness. New Jersey’s plan was to throw everything they could at the net and it finally paid dividends in the third period with a fantastic goal from Henrique on a panic play by Doughty (very unusual) and an empty netter for Kovalchuk that might finally break his curse.
New Jersey played to the same level as their previous outings, it was LA who let this one go. Case in point with Doughty on the Henrique goal: it was like he suddenly realized what was at stake and panic took over. The last few minutes of the game suddenly saw New Jersey with its first lead and very little time left for LA to catch up. With the clock and expectations stacked against them, it was no wonder that LA finally folded.
So New Jersey wins one. It doesn’t change the fact that they’ve been outplayed for the better part of this series by the LA Kings who have been better all around in this series. Yes, bum luck accounts for some of the Devils missed goals, but so do turnovers and casual plays. Yes, LA has had elite level goaltending from Quick, but Brodeur is no slouch either. Yes, LA has taken more penalties against the Devils, but their power play has been so ineffectual, it’s not even noteworthy anymore when a King heads to the box.
New Jersey may be given the benefit of another home game in this series, but they’re far from contending for another decisive win.
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.