With the battle for Lord Stanley's Cup set to kickoff tonight in Newark at the Prudential Center, the on-ice matchup between two teams is highlighted by off-ice negotiations a little less than two years ago when both teams fought to sign free-agent star Ilya Kovalchuk.
While it was New Jersey who emerged victorious in signing Kovalchuk to a somewhat obnoxiously long deal, it's been on the ice in Newark where the Devils have dominated their opposition and will continue to do so under the watchful eye of longtime netminder, Martin Broudeur.
This series is overshadowed by all of the high-powered teams these two contenders took down on the way to the finals.
The Devils started out by having to claw their way through a first-round series against the Florida Panthers which featured two straight overtimes in the final two games.
But the Devils used those key victories to rebound against a mangled Flyers team that was without their captain Chris Pronger for the majority of the season due to an ongoing battle with post concussion symptoms.
The Flyers were fresh off of a decimation of cross-state rival Pittsburgh, where they took their high-powered offense to the next level in a series exhibiting everything from lopsided shorthanded goals to flat out dominance on the shooting end.
The Devils, however, saw right past their Atlantic division rivals and proceeded to shut them down in four consecutive games after dropping the first contest in overtime.
Despite their undersized and at times underperforming team, the New Jersey Devils have been able to defy critics and continue winning against all odds.
They seem like a team that is continuing to grow as each game progresses, each line managing to accomplish their tasks and disrupt the flow of the game in the Devils' favor.
Lest we not forget to mention the chiseled 21-year veteran and three time Stanley Cup champion goaltender Martin Broduer, who has no doubt been in this type of a situation on multiple occassions.
Gone are the blueliners like former hard-nosed captain Scott Stevens and his right-hand man Scott Niedermayer, who helped protect him during his first few runs at Lord Stanley's Cup.
Up front the Kings hold the advantage with bigger and stronger lines headed up by captain and leading scorer, Dustin Brown (seven goals and 16 points), along with former Flyers stars Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.
Home ice will rear its head starting this Wednesday evening as the Devils take on the Kings in Game 1 at home. Both teams were underdogs who defied the odds on their memorable runs to the Finals, but the Devils' shutdown play on home ice will prove the difference maker.
Dropping just one game at home to a Rangers team that was predicted to go even farther than the Devils has provided the with the added confidence that they are unstoppable in their own building.
They also no longer have to deal with the annoyance that came with competing against a team that plays just 14 miles away from them.
Rangers and their fans attempted to flock to Newark to see their blueshirts potentially make their way back to their first Final since the Mark Messier era of the mid 1990s.
Gone is the distraction of having opposing team's fans in their building, something that hardly fazed the Devils as they calmly took it to the Rangers and secured a spot in the Stanley Cups Finals with a thrilling overtime victory at home.
Look for the momentum to continue at home as the Devils take on another underdog that cruised into their ever first Stanley Cup Final since 1993. Expect the Devils to emerge victorious against the Los Angeles Kings and give their legendary netminder his fourth Cup—fully solidifying his position as one of the top goaltenders to ever play the game.
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