The finale of a series where Fanspeak said goodbye to the eliminated teams during the 2012 playoffs.
In a few weeks, the New Jersey Devils may be able to appreciate what they almost pulled off against the L.A. Kings in the Stanley Cup finals. But, for now, the Devils will be lamenting the fact that they couldn't capture the franchise's first championship since 2003 — and got blown out in the Kings' clinching 6-1 game six victory last night.
While the Devils gave the Kings more trouble than any of their previous opponents, they couldn't reinvigorate the victorious formula they discovered against the Florida Panthers, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers. In the first three rounds of the playoffs, the Devils averaged 2.83 goals per game, allowed 2.33 goals per game and converted 18.2 percent of their power plays. Against L.A., they were outscored 16-8 and went one for 18 on the power play (5.5 percent).
Although they sported a similar puck-possession game as the Kings, their version wasn't as potent, missed on way too many opportunities and simply were out-hustled and out-dueled by a hungrier, bigger and better team. Coach Peter DeBoer, who had done so much this season to craft the team in his image and take them from a mess that missed the playoffs last season to a group that topped 100 points this time around, looked badly outmatched for the most part by Kings Coach Darryl Sutter.
Devils leading scorers Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Bryce Salvador, who combined for 55 points in the first three rounds, notched just seven against the Kings. (By the way, the Devils boast three players whose last names begin with Z: Zajac, Dainius Zubrus and Marek Zidlicky. There are only eight players in the entire league who have last names beginning with Z.)
Major changes could be ahead for the Devils. Parise, the team captain, is an unrestricted free agent and will be the biggest prize on the market as of July 1 if New Jersey can't re-sign him before then. Franchise goalie Martin Brodeur, 40, is a UFA too, as are lesser-known players Stephen Gionta and Peter Harrold. Ilya Kovalchuk is signed through the
apocalypse 2024-25 season, while Anton Volchenkov is under contract until 2015-16. Patrik Elias, Zajac, David Clarkson and Adam Henrique are signed through next season. Needless to say, it'll be an interesting off-season in Newark.