10 Teams New Jersey Devils Fans Need To See At The Rock
10 Games New Jersey Devils Fans Need To See At The Rock
No matter what your favorite sport is, it seems that everybody loves watching hockey live. It provides a different feeling than watching it at home. NHL fans get into the games more than fans of other sports.
New Jersey Devils fans get into the games as much as any other teams' fans. The Devil's Army, as their fans are called, can stretch throughout the country. When you go to the Prudential Center, or the Rock, as it is usually called, you get the best experience when the arena is full. The chants go throughout the arena when a goal is scored, and the boos are deafening when a call goes the wrong way. You hear vuvuzelas from the Diablos section. You hug people you've never met every time a big play happens.
The fact that it is easily accessed by three division rival teams makes the rivalries even more intense. There are certain games that are just not the same on your television set. Even with the 60-inch LED with the surround sound, it just doesn't compare. New Jersey also has a new-look team and it will be nice to see what they can do. Fans also have the added perk of being able to see the legendary Martin Brodeur in what is most likely his final season.
With the lockout-shortened schedule, Devils fans were robbed of seeing their team take on any of the Western Conference teams. This is a season that most fans are excited about. The last time Peter DeBoer had a full offseason with this team, he took them all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Last season's debacle and the loss of Ilya Kovalchuk may have spurned expectations, but that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of must-see performances this season. Every hockey game can end up being must-see TV, but some just tend to stand out more than others. Those are the games you want to say that "I was there". The following are the 10 games the fans just have to go to the Rock to experience.
10. February 7, 2014 vs. Edmonton Oilers
The Edmonton Oilers are a team that is packed with talent. Between Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall, the future is bright for the first time since Mark Messier was donning the sweater. That isn't even talking about last season's no. 1 overall pick Nail Yakupov. This is a team you need to see. They are chock full of talent and all of their best players are under the age of 24. It will be a fast-paced game that will sure be fun to watch. Another element that makes this a great game to go to is that it will be the last time the Devils play at home before the Olympic break. You need to get your hockey fix before it goes away for 19 days.
9. April 4, 2014 vs. Washington Capitals
The reigning MVP comes into New Jersey for the last time of the season on this date. Alexander Ovechkin seemed to revive his career last season. He once again became one of the NHL's must-see players. The Washington Capitals are in the same division as the Devils this season. Unfortunately for them, that means they are going to see a lot more of Ovechkin. Whichever game you come to see this team isn't important, just that you see them at least once. Looking how former Devils coach Adam Oates is doing in his second year as the Caps' head coach is another intriguing factor in this matchup.
8. December 31, 2013 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins
As always, the Pittsburgh Penguins are the most star-studded team in the NHL. They are led by captain Sidney Crosby who, with his history of severe concussions, is always playing on borrowed time. There is the 2011-12 MVP in Evgeni Malkin, who is utterly dangerous to every other team. They are a team that the Devils can use as a measuring stick. The Pens are always at the top of the conference, and will most likely be there this season. Then there is always the Jaromir Jagr factor. He spent most of his career wearing the gold and black, and this is the first season he will play them wearing the red and the black. Another reason to show up to this New Year's Eve matchup is that the tickets end up going for next to nothing. You get to start your New Year's early and don't have to break the bank to see this rivalry.
7. November 2, 2013 vs. Philadelphia Flyers
The Devils and the Philadelphia Flyers have always had a nasty rivalry. The teams don't like each other. The fans don't like each other. The close proximity makes this rivalry even more vicious. Both arenas are filled with orange and red for all their games. Both these teams are going through a transition. The Flyers let go of high-priced players Danny Briere and Ilya Brygalov. The Devils lost an Ilya of their own. On top of the firepower that Claude Giroux brings to this team, they went out and brought in Vincent Lecavalier. Both these teams are looking to bounce back from awful campaigns last season. Expect this rivalry to be even stronger when they are directly fighting for a limited number of playoff spots.
6. October 4, 2013 vs. New York Islanders
After five long months, the Rock finally gets their Devils back. Opening night is sure to be rocking (no pun intended) when John Tavares and the New York Islanders visit New Jersey. The Isles come into this season riding the momentum of surprisingly making the playoffs. They took the no. 1 seeded Pens to six games when they weren't supposed to get past four. The Devils and Isles haven't had much of a rivalry, but opening night is something you cannot miss. The new additions of Jagr, Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder will be on full display on the first night in front of their home crowd. The first day of life goes on after Kovalchuk starts on this night.
5. January 3, 2014 vs. Chicago Blackhawks
The Devils start off 2014 by welcoming the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The Devils did not face any of the Western Conference teams in last year's shortened season. That means they never got to play the force that was the Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks went on an unprecedented streak of 24 games with at least a point to start the season. This is possibly the first time that Brodeur can face Chicago since they went after him in free agency after his latest Cup run. Patrick Kane put himself into the upper echelon of stars in 2013. He carried the Hawks and ended the Los Angeles Kings' season in double overtime. They are one of the most talented teams in the NHL. They only make one appearance in New Jersey, and it is something you need to make part of your New Year.
4. March 23, 2014 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
The return of one David Clarkson is something you will want to be a part of. He is one of the players that Devils fans have vilified for spurning them for another team. In this case, Clarkson chose the Toronto Maple Leafs. They also brought in Dave Bolland from the Stanley Cup Champs. The Maple Leafs were another team that surprised when they played all the way to the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Expect to be in a crowd who is ready to boo when Clarkson's name gets mentioned over the PA system. Hopefully their replacement, Clowe, will be able to take his place, so this will be the only time Devils fans have to think about Clarkson.
3. March 22, 2014 vs. New York Rangers
Of course the Rangers were going to be up here, but why this game? Well, this could be the last time ever that Martin Brodeur faces the New York Rangers. It is no secret that this is likely his last season, and the Rangers are quite possibly his biggest rival. He has been there from when he lost to them in the famous "Mark Messier guarantee" days to when he could thank a rookie Adam Henrique for helping return the favor. This is the fiercest rivalry the Devils have. Even with the loss of coach John Tortorella, this is still very personal. The teams have been known to drop the gloves at the start of the game. It takes a certain amount of venom to want to fight based on a faceoff. This is a matchup you need to take in at least once a year.
2. November 15, 2013 vs. Los Angeles Kings
It will only take 583 days between the night that the Devils watched the Kings lift Lord Stanley's Cup in front of them and this game, but the two will finally get a chance to meet again. Although the Devils' roster has seen many changes, the Kings' roster has stayed mostly intact over the past two seasons. It won't take long for this marquee matchup to happen, but it is one that needs to be seen. Bernier will have revenge and redemption on his mind. The rest of the team will work harder to show that one call was what made that series.
1. March 20, 2014 vs. Minnesota Wild
This is a night that Devils fans have been waiting for since Independence Day in 2012. The return of Zach Parise is something the fans cannot wait for. The malice in Devils fans' hearts towards Parise is well known. With the defection of Kovalchuk, he is no longer public enemy no. 1, but he is still high up on the list. The rumors swirled of how Parise ended up with the Minnesota Wild, and nobody in New Jersey was happy about it. The crowd this night will be the best of the year. It will be nationally televised, and the country is about to see the kind of pain Devils fans felt when Parise left a Stanley Cup team to join the Wild. This will be must-see hockey.