Hockey This Week

New Jersey Devils Focus Remains the Same: Play Physical and Win One Game at a Time

June 11, 2012
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Hockey This Week

Hockey This Week

Hockey This Week

The New Jersey Devils are keeping their Stanley Cup Final series against the Los Angeles Kings very interesting. The Devils used goals by Zach Parise and Brice Salvador along with another remarkable outing from goalie Martin Brodeur to send the series back to L.A. for a game 6 on Monday night.

Left for dead a few days ago, the Devils have breathed new life into this series and their own fans, as this inspirational fan made video clearly shows.

(Thanks @NJaD4)

After a 4-0 drubbing in game 3 that put the Kings up 3-0 in the series, almost everybody assumed that Dustin Brown would be accepting the Stanley Cup from commissioner Gary Bettman in game 4. Not so fast.

“We could have packed it in two games ago,” the 40-year-old Brodeur said. “That’s the bottom line. But you see we have a bunch of resilient guys that want to try to make history and try to win the Stanley Cup. We’re not going to give up.”

The Devils played inspired hockey in the last two games to cut the series deficit to one. They now trail the series 3-2 and all of the sudden a series win and the Cup are well within reach. But, for the Devils the objective remains the same – focus on the game at hand. Don’t look too far ahead and stay within the moment.

It’s possible the Kings fell into the trap of looking ahead and now face the real possibility of losing a series they once controlled so handily.

The 2-1 game 5 loss was the first road loss for L.A. this postseason. They had be 10-0 until Salvador and company out a stop to that. It also marked the first time the Kings lost two in a row during a series and the first time they were forced to a game 6.

So what has changed for New Jersey?

Well, for one thing, they are getting the breaks. In games 1 through 3 they were the ones hitting the posts and getting all the bad bounces. Now, the show is on the other foot. It’s the Kings that have been snake-bitten by the iron and wacky hops.

That’s hockey. Funny things happen when you play a game on ice with sticks and skates. Go figure.

The biggest difference from my perspective is the Devils physical play. They have made it a point to hit a Kings player every chance they get. The Devils outhit L.A. 43-33 and 34-23 in the games 4 and 5 wins. They are taking the physical play to L.A.. In the first three rounds it was Los Angeles that dictated the physical play. Now the Devils are the aggressors and the Kings haven’t responded well.

If the Devils are going to win at the Staples Center on Monday they have to come out with all the fire and brimstone they can muster from deep within their guts and use that to fore check and attack their opponents body.

Oh, and they have to score the first goal. It is clearly the most important goal of the game. The team that scores first is 5-0 in the Finals.

Before I wrap this up  I want to leave you with a couple interesting little nuggets to chew on.

New Jersey is 4-5 in games 1 through 3 and 10-1 in games 4-7 .They are also undefeated when facing elimination (4-0) during this incredible playoff run. Those two  stats alone are both jaw dropping and telling at the same time. What is basically tells us is that the Devils how to win when it matters most, in crunch time.

And finally, the Devils became the first team since the 1945 Detroit Red Wings to send a Stanley Cup Final series to six games after trailing 0-3. The Red Wings eventually lost the series in 7 games, but you get the feeling that if the Devils can force a game 7 back home in Newark they will win the whole darn thing.

Steve Palumbo
Hockey This Week

Follow me on Twitter! @StevePalumboNHL

Email me at StevePalumboNHL@gmail.com

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