Sunday, May 27, 2012

It's Not 1994!!

The Ghosts of playoffs past did not revisit the New Jersey Devils, though for a bit in game six, you had to wonder if Mark Messier might have been doing his best Jack Nicholson imitation from Witches of Eastwick.

The Devils survived another spirited Ranger comeback, one which at one point seemed to suggest that a game seven was but a given, the drama and momentum destined to shift back to New York City.

But then, the Devils refocused on their goal, with a Stanley Cup final appearance glinting in the distance, the Devils turned back the Ranger attack, settling down defensively while still pushing into the Ranger end of the ice.

Three periods gave way to a fourth, an overtime frame steeped in drama, each shot could be a possible game changer, the drama playing out in just over a minute as Adam Henrique, who had left the ice in pain in the third period providing for the deliverance for the Devils.

A goal mouth scramble, with bodies crashing and Henrik Lundqvist scrambling to find the black disc ended when Henrique fished the puck out of the scrum and fired it into the gaping net, game over, series won, ghosts vanquished.


The look on Henrik Lundqvists face told you all you needed to know about the Rangers end, while the smile and yelps from Henrique proved to be the exclamation point for the Devils season thus far.

So much was heard of 1994, the much discussed guarantee from Messier, though as not to be a distraction, the one time Ranger leader was nowhere to be found in the Prudential Centre.

These Rangers had their own story to write, the swagger of a team that continually found ways to win this year when their backs were to the wall, seemingly sure that they would persevere once again, as they had with Ottawa and Washington.

Yet, those fourteen games of rounds one and two clearly had taken a toll on the Rangers in the third round, at times there were periods of play where the Blueshirts looked totally gassed, nothing left to give, but somehow they found some jump when needed most, taking back leads, leaving a bit of doubt for the Devils to consider.

The odds however, finally went in the Devils favour, it wasn't a pretty goal, it wasn't on any spectacular rush, but a goal that seems to define playoff hockey, put the puck to the net, fight for it and when you have it make your shot count.

The Devils created the opportunity, Henrique did his part and a remarkable playoff run for Lundqvist came to an end in a most painful fashion.

A new challenge arrives on Wednesday when the Devils play the Kings in the Stanley Cup final, there will be lessons to have been learned from they six games against the Rangers, but at least for the Devils the learning curve will still be on the ice, with every players goal still within sight.

Reviews of all six games from the Hudson River showdown can be found here.

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