Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Top 10 Video Special - Devils moments in the Stanley Cup Finals

There's been a lot of down time between the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Finals.  I decided that now would be a good time to put together the 19th installment of my Top 10 Video Specials series.  I recently counted down the 10 greatest moments in Devils' Eastern Conference Finals history, and now I'll count down the 10 greatest moments in Devils' Stanley Cup Finals history.

#10 - Sykora snipes

With the Devils down in the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals, 2-1, and tied 2-2 late in the third period of Game 4, Petr Sykora made sure that they wouldn't need overtime and that the series would be tied heading back to Colorado.  The Devils ended up winning Games 4 and 5, but couldn't manage a fourth win in the series to win a third Stanley Cup championship at the time.

#9 - Stevens levels Kariya

The Mighty Ducks were on their way to winning Game 6 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals, but Scott Stevens knew he had to send a message before heading back to New Jersey for Game 7.  He found his opportunity when Paul Kariya was skating through center ice...with his head down.

#8 - Dano puts the Devils on top

The 2000 Stanley Cup Finals weren't remembered for having a lot of goals, but Game 1 did.  This is Ken Daneyko's goal that put the Devils on top, and they never looked back.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Stanley Cup Finals PREVIEW: NJ Devils vs. LA Kings

Read on for my Devils-Flyers Kings Stanley Cup Finals preview.

Well, here we are, seven weeks into the NHL playoffs.  It's Memorial Day weekend and the Devils are still playing hockey.  I don't think either team's fan base truly expected to be here right now, but hey, I'm not complaining.

How they got there:

If you're a Devils fan, you know the story by now.  Peter DeBoer was hired by Lou Lamoriello to help the Devils "evolve" into a more aggressive offensive team and have a chance to win the franchise's fourth Stanley Cup championship.  There were growing pains early on, and the team battled several key injuries throughout the season, but the Devils surged out of the All-Star break and finished the regular season on a six-game winning streak.

The Devils battled hard and squeezed out of the first round against Florida in the second overtime of the series' seventh game.  After few thought the Devils would stand any chance against the "mighty" Flyers, they simply destroyed the Flyers in every part of the game and knocked them out in five games.  The Rangers presented a more difficult task, but the Devils eventually got to Henrik Lundqvist and the shot-blocking Rangers' defensemen and eliminated the East's top seeded team 63 seconds into overtime in Game 6.

With heroics from Adam Henrique in rounds one and three, the Devils advance to their fifth Stanley Cup Final in franchise history and first since 2003, when they beat Anaheim in seven games.  Four more wins would give the Devils their fourth Stanley Cup championship since the spring of 1995.

By the way, have I mentioned how awesome this moment is yet?


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Beast of the East: NJ Devils 2011-12 Timeline

"Ask Lundqvist if he'd like to join us.  No really!"

Last week, I broke down the LA Kings' 2011-12 season to date, and now, we know who they'll face in the Stanley Cup Finals: the New Jersey Devils.  Of course, this means I will be able to provide a completely neutral post with absolutely no bias whatsoever.  ...  Okay, seriously, stop laughing at me.

So how did the 2011-12 Devils come to be?  Here's a look back:

April 12th, 2011: Despite just a 3.6% chance to win the Draft Lottery, the Devils win the lottery and move up to 4th in the draft order.  Gary Bettman immediately fires everyone who planned the draft lottery in rage.

June 24th: The Devils draft Adam Larsson with the 4th overall pick.  Ten minutes later, Larsson realizes his Twitter account is now history.

July 19th: Lou Lamoriello is mocked by the entire world for hiring the recently fired Panthers coach, Peter DeBoer, because obviously not hiring a "trap" defensive coach turned out to be a huge mistake.

July 20th: In a bizarre unforeseen turn of events, Lou Lamoriello does not fire DeBoer the day after hiring him.

July 28th: The Devils trade Brian Rolston and his humongous contract to the Islanders for Trent Hunter.

August 1st: The Devils waive Colin White...and Trent Hunter.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How the West was won: LA Kings 2011-12 timeline

"Careful, Dustin, this rug is awfully slippery. We wouldn't want you to fall so easily."
Last night, the Los Angeles Kings beat the Phoenix Coyotes in overtime to clinch the Western Conference and advance to the franchise's second Stanley Cup Final.  This is good news for us Twitter maniacs, as this means the LA Kings' Twitter account will be busy through the Finals.  So how did this Kings run to the Finals come to be?

June 23rd: Flyers GM Paul Holmgren promises Kings GM Dean Lombardi that trading for Mike Richards would help him land the Richards he really wanted to sign.

June 24th: Mike Richards sends Jeff Carter a sympathy card postmarked Columbus, Ohio.

July 2nd: Brad Richards signs with the Rangers, to nobody's surprise.  Except a very frustrated Dean Lombardi.

July 3rd: Lombardi calls Gary Bettman to see if the NHL has rejected Ilya Kovalchuk's second contract with the Devils yet.

October 7th: The Kings open their season in Sweden (yes, the NHL used to do that...) against the New York Rangers.  Hmm...

October 13th: The Kings play their first game in North America, against the New Jersey Devils.  Hmm...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What would it mean to win the Stanley Cup?

(insert your own Gary Bettman/Stanley Cup joke here)

Which ever of the four remaining teams wins the Stanley Cup this year, there will be several first-time winners on that team's roster.  That means a very special moment in a team and players' history is just a few weeks away from happening.  Winning the Stanley Cup is often a dream realized by many NHL players and coaches, so let's take a look at just what it would mean to win the Cup.

Brad Richards - He's prepared a speech to give in the locker room after the game, in which he'll talk about what winning the Cup means to him.  Meanwhile, John Tortorella and Ruslan Fedotenko will just roll their eyes.

Shane Doan - After spending his day with the Cup, he'll be awfully confused as to why all of his equipment has been postmarked "Quebec City."

Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, Justin Williams, John Stevens - After winning the Cup, they've planned to meet outside their local Philly bar, but they won't be able to figure out why everyone in Philly keeps cursing out New Jersey.

Martin Brodeur - He'd obviously like a fourth Cup, but nobody has been able to figure out why he keeps Patrick Roy's number waiting on speed dial.

Mike Smith - He'd love to win the Stanley Cup, because it'd give him another large object to slam LA Kings' players with repeatedly.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

PREVIEW: #6 Devils vs. #1 Rangers

Torts?  Angry?  Get used to this sight.

"When we play our game, nobody can beat us."

You see that quote above?  That was Ilya Kovalchuk earlier this season.  Head coach Pete DeBoer insisted that the Devils are an "elite" team, and he proclaimed that many months ago.  DeBoer seems to be the most liked Devils coach in years.  This could be the best Devils team in years.  The next 4-7 games will play a huge role in determining if these Devils are as good or better than the last championship team in 2003.  Round 3 of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs are about to begin, and of course, it's Devils-Rangers for a chance to go to the Stanley Cup Finals.  *Whew.*  Take a deep breathe everyone.

So how did both of these teams get here?

As you probably know by now, the Devils needed a second overtime of Game 7 to beat a pesky Florida Panthers team in the first round of the playoffs before dismantling a fatigued Flyers group in five games to advance to the Conference Finals.  The Devils have excelled playing 5-on-5, as they're scored 24 of their 36 goals this post-season 5-on-5, and they've surrendered 13 goals against 5-on-5.  That 1.85 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio is the best of the 16 playoff teams.  Basically, the Devils will succeed if they stay out of the penalty box and continue their dominant forechecking game.

Proof that it is, in fact, possible to score on Henrik Lundqvist.
True to form, nothing comes easy for this year's edition of the New York Rangers.  This isn't your "older brother's" Rangers, who boasted the likes of Shanahan, Jagr and mega-free agents (although they rely on Gaborik and Richards for much of their offense).  This is a very hard-working, "blue-collar" hockey team that likes to play physical and wear down their opposition.  They ran into two opponents who have tested them to the brink of elimination, in #8 Ottawa and #7 Washington, but the Rangers squeaked by both series in seven games each, and now face the Devils in the Conference Finals.  The Rangers have scored 19 times 5-on-5, while allowing 17 this post-season so far.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Top 10 Video Special - Devils moments in the Eastern Conference Finals

As we continue to wait for the start of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals between the Devils and...someone, I decided to take my ten favorite Devils moments from their six previous Conference Finals appearances and put together the 18th edition of the DGA Top 10 Video Special.

#10 - "Have another doughnut"

The Devils were in the midst of their first ever playoff appearance in the spring of 1988.  After barely making the playoffs on the regular season's final day, the Devils won two rounds and found themselves in the Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins.  Game 3 didn't go so well for the Devils, but this is still one of the most memorable moments in franchise history, courtesy of Jim Schoenfeld.

#9 - "We're the DEVILS!!!"

This moment didn't occur on the ice, but it's a famous moment nonetheless.  During the 1994 Conference Finals, Seinfeld featured Elaine's boyfriend David Puddy decked out in Devils gear, and he properly ticked off his Ranger fan friends.

#8 - Claude Lemieux's 43728th goal of the series

Well, I exaggerated a bit, but Claude Lemieux had arguably the best single playoff season of any Devil in history.  With the Devils and Flyers tied in the series and Game 5 late in the third period, Lemieux beat Ron Hextall five-hole.  A Devil beat a Flyers goalie five-hole...I guess some things never change.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

How the Devils are preparing for the Eastern Conference Finals

Despite beating the Flyers in 5, Pete DeBoer knows he failed as a coach by letting Zac Rinaldo escape the series uninjured.

The annoying part about winning a short series is waiting to find out who your next opponent will be.  The Kings, Coyotes and Devils have advanced to the Conference Finals, but the Rangers and Capitals are still battling out their series, as Game 7 will be Saturday night.  The Devils have already begun preparing for the Eastern Conference Finals, despite not knowing who they'll be playing.  So what exactly are they doing?

David Clarkson - He's decided that if scoring goals while skating right in front of the goaltender when he is trying to clear puck doesn't work, he'll screen the goaltender and wave his stick in the air like an idiot.  Or did the league outlaw that?

Ilya Kovalchuk - After all the times he helped the red light go on behind Ilya Bryzgalov, he's forced Bryzgalov into a habit of flopping and throwing his hands up every time he drives up to a red traffic light.

Anton Volchenkov - Since he can't practice due to injury, he sends Brayden Schenn a get well soon postcard.  Every day.

Ryan Carter - Purchased a New York Rangers inflatable punching bag and drew a #41 "Bickel" on the back.

Zach Parise - Has been looking at real estate in northern New Jersey, because apparently the Devils winning probably bodes decently as far as Parise's future in New Jersey.

Lou Lamoriello - He's working very hard to inform the media of various Devils injuries.  Marek Zidlicky is "day-to-day with an undisclosed injury."

Friday, May 4, 2012

Biggest surprises in the 2012 playoffs (so far)

A collection of objects that went through Ilya Bryzgalov's five-hole this month.
The 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs turned four weeks old this past Wednesday, and by now, most people's brackets have been ruined.  Things haven't exactly gone as 'experts' thought they would to this point, but there have been more surprises than just which teams are still playing.  Here's what I mean.

  • Jeremy Roenick called out several Russian players in the playoffs this season.  None of them were his ex-teammates in San Jose.
  • After beating the Bruins in Game 7, Caps GM George McPhee said he might break the team's tradition of trading away their best goalie after flopping in the playoffs.
  • Jamie Langenbrunner's team is on the brink of being bounced out of the playoffs in the second round.  The real surprise is that Jamie Langenbrunner's team hasn't been bounced out already.
  • It's surprising that with all the bad shots Michael Yormark took at Devils fans that none of them went through Ilya Bryzgalov's five-hole.
  • Tyler Seguin's popularity among females is gaining on Justin Bieber's.