NHL Playoffs 2012: New Jersey Devils Must Finish off New York Rangers in Game 6

Carl StoffersCorrespondent IIMay 24, 2012

Peter DeBoer's Devils can eliminated the Rangers Friday night at home
Peter DeBoer's Devils can eliminated the Rangers Friday night at homeBruce Bennett/Getty Images

The New Jersey Devils aren't facing elimination Friday night when they take on the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but they might as well be.

They've got the Rangers on the ropes in Newark, and now, they must finish their cross-river rivals. Failure to get the job done on Friday night could mean canceling those tickets to Los Angeles.

The Rangers have been in this situation before.

In opening round this year, the upstart Ottawa Senators took a 3-2 series lead home to face the Rangers in Game 6. With a 1-0 lead after the first, it looked like Ottawa might just knock off the No. 1 seed. Then, the bottom fell out.

New York scored three goals in the second and held on to win 3-2, forcing a Game 7 at Madison Square Garden. Ottawa never had a chance. The Rangers dispatched them to take the series.

The Devils are in a perilous position, akin to wounding—but not killing—a deadly animal. New York has shown flashes of brilliance in the series, mainly in net, where Henrik Lundqvist has logged two shutouts. If "The King" is on his game Friday night, New Jersey will have big problems.

For Devils head coach Peter DeBoer, it's never time to panic, and his calming presence is a big reason his team is one win from the Finals.

"We've seen it all this year," DeBoer said after the Game 5 victory. "We've had leads and lost them; we've been behind and come back. We've seen just about every situation you can be in."

It's safe to say that DeBoer has complete confidence in his squad, and rightfully so. The Devils have shown poise and resiliency through a grinding regular season and a tough marathon playoff run.

But the fact remains that they have consistently made things more difficult on themselves by not playing "their game" in big situations, only to rally in dramatic fashion later. It's that drama that DeBoer and the New Jersey fans can certainly do without.

"I think we'll be good. We're at home, in front of our home crowd. We've worked awful hard to get this opportunity, and I'm confident we're gonna throw a good game out there," DeBoer said.

The cliche is that close-out games are the hardest to win, and this elimination game will probably be no exception.