The New Jersey Devils have clawed their way to within one game of a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2012. Not very many people, in fact, almost nobody picked the Devils to represent the Eastern Conference at the Stanley Cup showdown this year.
Most hockey people chose the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins or New York Rangers to come out of the East. However, it is the New Jersey Devils that has two consecutive opportunities to guarantee themselves a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
Why is that? Why are the Devils still alive, and playing successfully?
Here are some of the keys to the playoff success the Devils are enjoying:
1) Zach Parise has been unbelievable for his team. The captain has played hard on every shift, and he really dictates the play whenever he steps on the ice. His teammates have followed his example and played harder as well.
2) Ilya Kovalchuk has been coming through at critical moments. He has also battled through injuries and leads the Devils with 16 points. Kovalchuk was once criticized for not having enough playoff experience in his career. All that criticism is in the past now. The star forward has stepped up his game and played a major role on the team to lead the offensive attack.
3) The Devils' fourth line has been the unsung hero throughout the playoffs. The trio of Gionta, Bernier and Carter have really maintained their game according to the strategy implemented by coach Peter DeBoer. They are quick on the forecheck, play with physicality and are cautious in their own zone. This can be seen with their ratings of plus-five, plus-three and plus-five.
In Game 6, the Devils have their first opportunity to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. The key is for Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk to lead the offense, and for the Devils to continue rolling four lines to maintain a high energy level. This will give the Devils a competitive advantage throughout the game.
This is Joseph Trenton reporting on the New Jersey Devils.
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