The New Jersey Devils trail the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 in the Stanley Cup Final after losing 2-1 in overtime on an Anze Kopitar breakaway goal. It was the third straight opening game loss for the Devils during their run towards another Cup.
While it definitely wasn’t the Devils best performance of the postseason, there certainly is no need to panic quite yet.
New Jersey managed only 17 shots and one fluky goal on goaltender Jonathan Quick in almost three and half periods of play. The Devils appeared to be out of sorts and certainly were not prepared to play early. The Devils sloshed through the first 35 minutes of the game with just five total shots on goal, but came on strong in the second half of the game before succumbing to the Kings in the overtime period.
Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who was marvelous in making 23 saves, said it best about the game when he quipped, “We were nervous. We made too many turnovers. We panicked with the puck a lot. It looked like we were holding the stick too tight.”
Then Marty added the kicker, “And we still had a chance to win the hockey game.”
Spoken like a true professional that has been in this spot before. Although the Devils played a poor game, they still had a chance to win. Not to take anything away from the Kings, a win is a win and they deserved it. But, the probability of the Devils playing another clunker of that magnitude? How about almost zilch.
“We lost one game,” Brodeur said. “There are six games left in this series. They need to win three. We need to win four. We’re fine. I thought we didn’t play our best game and we competed with them.”
I think people often have very short memories. New Jersey has been in this position before and always summoned enough intestinal fortitude to play some of their best hockey and secure an equalizing win.
Since the NHL introduced the best-of-seven format in 1939, teams winning Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final have gone on to win 55 of 72 series. The good news for Devils fans is that the Stanley Cup winners lost Game 1 two of the last three years (Pittsburgh in 2011 and Boston last year).
And again I say, this group of Devils can do it.
New Jersey responded to a game 1 OT loss to the Philadelphia Flyers with a dominating 4-1 win and never looked back, winning four in a row. New Jersey bounced back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits against the New York Rangers with a purpose, because they have that ability.
What’s stopping them from doing the same thing against LA?
“This is a different team,” Brodeur said. “We’re a resilient bunch of guys.”
Once again Marty, you nailed it. Nobody said beating the Kings was going to be easy and as Brodeur said these Devils are a “resilient bunch.” They will find a way to get this series even. After all, that’s what championship teams do and that has not changed about this team.
Follow me on Twitter! @StevePalumboNHL
Email me at StevePalumboNHL@gmail.com