NHL Playoffs 2012: Are the New Jersey Devils Now the Favorite for the Cup?

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NHL Playoffs 2012: Are the New Jersey Devils Now the Favorite for the Cup?
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Martin Brodeur is 40. His team is the most offensive (scoring) he's had. They are going against all expert picks. The team he started with has completed the 180-degree turn. Is this how it ends?

Honestly, can it end any other way? There are way too many "feel good" stories this year. The Capitals knock off the champs in seven. The Kings win twice quickly as an eighth seed. The Coyotes find their way to the conference championship while not having a home.

Brodeur will be compared to Ray Bourque with the Colorado Avalanche. I would make a hypothetical comparison. This is Brett Favre winning a Super Bowl with the Vikings two years ago, without the lofty expectations. 

Lets face it, Marty has nothing to prove. He's been to four cups and won three of them. Nobody has better stats in any category for a goalie than he does. A fourth win, however, would make him equal to Patrick Roy in cup wins, the only category he isn't equal to or better than the legend. 

The Devils won't get a freebie in the conference championship. The Rangers have been the most consistent team all year, and the Capitals are playing inspired. Even Alex Ovechkin is buying into Dale Hunter's system.

But the "Brodeur Factor" may be enough. The closer this team gets, the more they will hunker down for that final piece for the greatest goaltending career in the history of the game. 

It's also interesting to note that Marty's teams have done a complete "about face." He started by winning a cup with Scott Stevens and the trap. He now has what has to be one of the fastest and most talented offensive teams in the league. He went from Stevens, Niedermayer and Daneyko on defense to Parise, Kovalchuk, Sykora, Elias and Zajac. 

I'm not all in just yet, but I'm probably about 60-40 in favor of the Devils. Lets face it, they still have to get through the winner of Rangers/Caps, and the winner of the west will be no slouch. But watch as this team realizes the history in front of them.

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