Let’s face it, none of us expected the New Jersey Devils to make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. In fact, I’m not sure how many of us believed they would get past the Philadelphia Flyers or the New York Rangers. To say the ride has been enjoyable would be an understatement.
I truly believe the Stanley Cup Playoffs are the most difficult to succeed in of all the major sports. It often takes an insane amount of hard work, dedication and luck. The Devils have had all of that and then some. But, they face a tremendous uphill climb after falling into a 3-0 deficit to the suddenly unbeatable Los Angeles Kings.
And despite the daunting task ahead for their team, the New Jersey faithful still believe they can win this series. A reader and die-hard Devils fan by the name of Dave Dumas (@Hadly_) contacted me with something he wrote that sums up what it has been like to be a part of this playoff journey with the New Jersey Devils and why we shouldn’t give up on the team just yet.
Here is what Dave wrote:
Let’s rewind to May 26th of this year. Devils fans woke up that morning and many had to remind themselves that it wasn’t a dream; the Devils beat the Rangers 3-2 in overtime and won the Eastern Conference Finals series 4-2. They earned the right to face the Los Angeles Kings for the Stanley Cup. It was a fantastic day. I know many people who watched Doc’s call of that Henrique goal over and over again on Youtube. I was one of them.
Fast-forward to today, June 5th. Many of those same Devils fans woke up this morning and had to remind themselves that it wasn’t a nightmare; the Devils are down 3-0 to the Kings in the Finals. Things are as grim as they can get. The Devils are just one loss away from being just another name on a long list of casualties caused by the Kings steamrolling their way through the 2012 playoffs.
In this time of despair, it’s easy to forget how far the Devils have come. It’s easy to forget the silver lining amongst the coronation of the Kings. No one expected the Devils to make it here. No one. Not even the most die-hard and loyal of fans could have predicted this. The 3-0 hole aside, this a team that Devils fans should be proud of.
We have finally (it seems, anyway) found the coach that will be behind the bench for a few years, ending the seemingly endless revolving door that has plagued this team for years. The problem against the Kings, the reason for the 3-0 hole, is not systemic. This is a fate that I think any team would have faced, and DeBoer is certainly not to blame for this. The Kings are just too good, plain and simple. The fact that DeBoer coached this team to a Finals berth in his first year on the team only bodes well for the future of the organization. I look forward to seeing what happens next year.
Our core is young. If this run has one single good ending, it’s that Zach Parise has seen what this team can do and where it can go. I’m sure the odds are in favour of him staying around, at least for a little while. Kovalchuk is here to stay, and while a lot of people are going to be quick to blame him for whatever result happens, any true fan knows that Kovalchuk has performed well through these playoffs, even through injury.
Henrique has proven himself to be more than capable. A total steal in the draft, he is showing that he is ready for the big time. He is ready for big minutes, big games, and big plays. The Calder candidate will certainly be a cornerstone in this organization for years to come, and I couldn’t be more excited than that.
Our fourth line has emerged as one of the elite in the NHL. Carter, Bernier, and Gionta have played more minutes in a period than some fourth liners get in a game. They play big, and they play hard. They score timely, clutch goals. Depth is needed to make an impact in the NHL, and the Devils have proven they’ve got it. At least for now.
There are prospects in the works, ready and waiting in the wings to make their mark on Devils history. Tedenby, Josefson, Merrill, Wedgewood, Larsson, Gionta. That is the future of this organization. As the era of Elias and Brodeur twilights in the coming years, those names will replace them, and replace them well. The Devils are adjusting to post-lockout hockey. Lou is slowly but surely rebuilding the great empire the Devils once enjoyed in the NHL. This year was just a glimpse of what is possible.
The future of the Devils is a bright one. Of course, with this run, the expectations will be higher. But the Devils can, and will deliver. Once the hangover of these playoffs fades, and the fans begin to look forward to next season, I think there will be many among us who realize the potential of this club over the next few years. As you suffer today, take solace in that fact. I find it far more likely that the Kings team is likely to blow up sooner or later, and I would hazard a bet that you will see the Devils back in the Finals long before you see the Kings.
And at the end of the day, remember this. It can’t be stressed enough.
It’s not over yet.
Perhaps the boys have a miracle in them, somewhere. If there’s any team that is going to rewrite NHL history to win a Cup, it’s going to be the Devils. Believe in them, cheer them on. Win or lose, I am proud to see the Devils playing hockey well into June, and I’m excited that I’ll be able to see it again sooner or later.
But it’s not over yet.
Thanks Dave. I’m with you and know thousands of other faithful members of the Devils Army agree 100%. It’s not over until the other team wins four games. Together we will cheer these resilient Devils on as they attempt to avoid a sweep on Wednesday in L.A.
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