On the brink of elimination, the Devils find themselves with a most arduous task at hand.
Win four straight games against a team that has not only been dominating New Jersey, but the entire playoffs.
The Los Angeles Kings have been better in every facet of the game. That's the bottom line and there's no way around it.
Game 1 and 2 could have gone either way, and the Devils probably should have taken both as they had better scoring chances early in the overtime, but those days are gone and dwelling on it won't do any good.
In Game 3, you could see how serious the Kings were about winning. Whenever a King hit a Devil you could hear the boards give way and just know it hurt from the sound. The Devils unfortunately did not respond the same way. Crashing into the boards and putting a little knock of the side of the opposing team didn't even come close to intimidating LA.
Los Angeles owned the Devils in Staples Center.
So what's next?
The Devils' system just plain will not work, and they need to fight for their lives if they even want to win one game to send it back to New Jersey where they performed much more admirably.
Despite times call for desperate measures. By making the following changes, the Devils will be sending a message to the Kings that they are going to play like a trapped animal backed into a corner, and the only way out is to kill the predator that seeks to end their wretched life.
- Insert Adam Larsson and Henrik Tallinder into the lineup. Both have fresh legs whereas the Devils' defense corps are getting slower and more tired by the game. Larsson can bring some much-needed offense and Tallinder is a reliable vet.
- Put Petr Sykora back in the lineup in place of Jacob Josefson. Sykora was taken out because he was struggling to score. Josefson provides little to no offense whereas Sykora is a very decent goal scorer.
- Sit Kovalchuk for Game 4. There is something very wrong with Kovalchuk, rumor is that he has a herniated disk in his back. Be that as it may, the last time Kovalchuk was benched the Devils won and Kovy came roaring back after getting some much needed rest.
- Cut the offense loose. Zach Parise has been pathetic this series. Even though the Devils' captain got off some good shots in Game 3, he still couldn't sink the puck. The captain needs to worry less about the forecheck and more about getting into the crease and knocking in garbage goals.
- Shoot the puck on the power play. The Devils went 0-6 on the man advantage on Monday because they were trying to be too cute. Patrik Elias and Ilya Kovalchuk looked like they were almost afraid to even take a shot. To beat the Kings one or two goals will not cut it, there is absolutely no excuse for such a poor execution.
- Get fired up! Get nasty! Get in the Kings' faces, play dirty if you have to. The Devils need to play like they have nothing to lose, which will be hard because, in fact, they have everything to lose as the Stanley Cup will finally make it's appearance at Game 4. If the Kings can play their game and feel comfortable in doing so the Devils may as well forfeit.
Although it is highly unlikely and maybe impossible, the Devils need a complete 180 in terms of how they handle this series from now until the bitter end. The first period will be a good indicator of what's going to be the ultimate outcome.
If you see hard hits, goals scored, and a change in attitude, New Jersey might just have a chance to make history, becoming the first team since 1942 to win the Cup after being down 0-3.