New Jersey Devils: Eastern Conference Champs
We all know that the Los Angeles Kings are 12-2 this postseason. Yes, they took down the top three seeds in the West. But are we really going to rule out the New Jersey Devils? If these six New Jersey players can continue their success, the Kings are going to see four tally marks added to their loss column.
Should we even be surprised that Martin Brodeur is playing like he did ten years ago? The man may be 40, but by now, we should realize that he is unlike anything we've ever seen.
As if he hasn’t broken enough records already, Brodeur recently set the mark for the most assists by a goaltender in the Stanley Cup playoffs (4). What’s truly sensational is that he only needs one more assist to tie Pekka Rinne’s league-leading five helpers in the regular season.
The all-time wins and shutouts leader is looking to etch his name into Lord Stanley’s Cup for the fourth time in his career.
It should be an unbelievable battle between him and Los Angeles’ up-and-coming puck-stopper Jonathan Quick.
Devils Celebrate Adam Henrique's Game 6 Winner
Rookie sensation Adam Henrique is quickly becoming the Robert Horry of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Henrique is the second player in NHL history to score two series-clinching overtime goals in one playoffs.
His first came in the first round against the Florida Panthers in the Game 7 double-overtime thriller, and his second was 63 seconds into overtime in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against the No. 1 seeded New York Rangers.
“The kid is just [in] the right place, right time, all the time,” Devils’ coach Peter DeBoer told The Record's Tom Gulitti. “The two biggest goals of the playoffs come off his stick, and that’s not accidental.”
Most rookies would crumble with their team’s life on the line, but not Henrique. He has earned the respect of his coaches, and more importantly, the trust of his teammates.
“That one was like Christmas,” Henrique told Pierre McGuire of the NBC Sports Network, discussing the goal that sent New Jersey to the finals. So will it be “Happy Kwanzaa” or “Happy Hanukkah” when he lifts the Stanley Cup over his head?
Bryce Salvador has been New Jersey’s biggest surprise in the playoffs. During the regular season, the defenseman had a dismal four goals and four assists, but this spring he has a plus-10 while recording three goals, two of which came in the team’s final two wins against the Rangers.
“I think there’s someone like that every year in the NHL playoffs…[who] shows up that no one’s heard of,” coach Peter DeBoer told reporters on Tuesday's conference call ahead of Game 5. “I think that’s the beauty of the NHL playoffs. And Bryce has been outstanding.”
What makes the story that much sweeter is that Salvador was sidelined the entire 2010-2011 season with a concussion.
The Devils are 8-0 when Salvador earns a point, so look for Salvador’s production to play a key role in the outcome of this series.
Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier make up New Jersey’s fourth and final line. The trio has found some rhythm of late, scoring four goals in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Kings and the Devils mirror one another with aggressive forechecking, meaning the play of the fourth lines on both teams will be more important than ever. If Carter, Gionta and Bernier can play with the same intensity that they have shown, the Devils’ first three lines will get a much needed breather against the fresher legs of Los Angeles.
Coach Peter DeBoer has shown confidence in this bunch and will rely on all four lines to combat the high-end play of Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick.