In the end it wasn’t meant to be. The New Jersey Devils fell to the Los Angles Kings in a forgettable game 6 loss. Ths ending any hopes of a miracle comeback. It was not the way the Devils would have wanted their tremendous playoff run to end.
For the Kings and their loyal fans it meant the franchise’s first Stanley Cup win and a sweet one at that.
The game was over before it ever really got started. A brutal Steve Bernier hit-from-behind on a defenseless Rob Scuderi led to a 5-minutes major penalty nearly half-way through the first period. The momentary loss of judgement cost Bernier and the Devils any real shot at winning the game.
It was at that very moment the Devils playoff balloon popped.
The Kings erupted for three goals on the extended man advantage and the wheels officially fell off the Devils Stanley Cup bus. New Jersey never came close to recovering. In fact, they looked beyond shell-shocked. The mustered only 10 shots through two periods of play. By the time the third period came to a close, the scoreboard read 6-1 in favor of the hometown Kings.
When we look back on this series, Devils fans will point out the missed call on Kings forward Jarrett Stoll moments before Bernier leveled Scuderi or the lack of a whistle on L.A.’s first goal in game 3. But, in all honsety that is not why New Jersey lost this series.
Although the officiating was questionable throughout, that alone didn’t cost New Jersey a chance to rally from and 0-3 deficit and force a game 7 back home at the Prudential Center. Maybe, just maybe – gasp – the Kings were the better team.
Los Angeles made their own luck in games 1 through 3 setting themselves up for a moment 45 years in the making. And despite some gutsy performances in games 4 and 5 the deficit was just too great for Jersey to conquer.
So now what?
It’s hard to imagine not calling a season in which you reached the Stanley Cup Final a year after missing the playoffs outright unsuccessful. So many wonderful thing took place during the season and into the playoffs.
The Devils head into the summer as Eastern Conference Champions which is quite an accomplishment in itself. They knocked off their two biggest rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers along the way. They overcame a 3-2 series hole in the opening round with Florida. They played with grit, moxie and pride and in return their fans are proud of them.
There were so many great moments during this incredible roller-coaster playoff run, Like two series clinching overtime goals from rookie Adam Henrique, the redemption of Martin Brodeur and the heart of a banged-up Ilya Kovalchuk.
It’s hard to see it end this way. But, the Devils can go home with their heads held high because when all is said and done it was a helluva thrill ride and I enjoyed every second of it.
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