They’re dropping like flies. Vancouver. Pittsburgh. Detroit. Chicago. Boston and the Rangers are being pushed to Game 7. The New Jersey Devils also have their hands full. They delivered the most decisive result in the series last Thursday in Newark in a game Coach DeBoer dubbed their best of the season. Jersey’s Team must now repeat the feat tonight to force Game 7.
The time has now come for this distinctive group of players to persevere through this first round elimination predicament. The Devils are still searching for their playoff home ice edge at The Rock. In five seasons at the Prudential Center, the Devils have a losing playoff game record. So far, they have a combined four wins and eight loses and are 0-3 when facing elimination. A triumph tonight can begin to change that.
Playing in their last season in the Meadowlands in 2007, Coach Claude Julien guided The Devils to 1st in the Atlantic Division and 2nd in the Eastern Conference. With three games left, he was fired. The team won one playoff series immediately afterwards. Then Julien went on to coach 13th place Boston in 2008 and led them to the playoffs. In 2009 he won the Jack Adams Award for NHL’s best coach. In 2011 he won the Stanley Cup. In the meantime, the New Jersey Devils did not win a single playoff series. Victory this evening can begin to change that.
After the lockout, a 21-year-old named Zach Parise joined the Devils. Taged a franchise player, he would go on to play proficiently, provide offense to a defensive-minded team, and work his way up the ranks to Alternate Captain and then Captain. However, in seven tries the Team has won only two playoff series with him. Beating the Florida Panthers in Game 6 can begin to change that.
Three-time NHL All Star Ilya Kovalchuk and two-time OHL Coach of the Year Peter DeBoer have never won an NHL playoff series. Despite their talent and inevitable success, the objectives have yet to be accomplished. Defeating Versteeg and Co at The Rock can begin to change that.
At a pivotal time in the history of the franchise, the New Jersey Devils find themselves in a pivotal time in the playoff series. Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko, and Scott Niedermayer were instrumental in not only winning three Stanley Cups during what is now considered the “Championship Era,” but they set a standard and foundation for what the New Jersey Devils will always stand for.
A win tonight will continue that.