Stanley Cup Finals 2012: The New Jersey Devils' Elimination Game History
New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur owns a lifetime record of 12-12 when facing elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs. The franchise is 16-17 in that situation dating back to its 1982 arrival in the Garden State.
In a not-too-shabby six-out-of-18 tries on Brodeur’s watch, the Devils have won a playoff series after letting the opposition take three of the first four, five or six installments. In three of those cases, they were the ones who needed to force a seventh game.
Since the 2000 Eastern Conference finals, both the franchise and the face of the franchise are a fairly sound 10-8 in must-win games. That string includes a rally from a 3-1 series deficit versus Philadelphia, a succession of Game 6 and Game 7 triumphs over Toronto in 2001, back-to-back Game 7 victories en route to a title in 2003 and a rally against Florida earlier this year.
But a feat eclipsing all of those will be a prerequisite to delivering a fourth championship banner to New Jersey in 2012. Wednesday night will see the Devils venturing into the Staples Center just hoping to avoid being swept out of a best-of-seven bout for the first time in club history.
The Los Angeles Kings appeared to tighten their command of the Stanley Cup Finals when they nabbed a 4-0 victory in Game 3 on their home pond Monday night. The Devils’ frustration oozed in the third period to bring on a bang-bang succession of power-play goals, followed by a vain frenzy on home goalie Jonathan Quick’s property.
Even so, members of New Jersey’s active roster has its share of reference points to replenish its confidence ahead of Wednesday’s faceoff. And besides Brodeur, there are those who can look back far beyond this year’s conference quarterfinals.
Forwards Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora were both on the 2000 championship team that needed to take three straight elimination games to claim the conference crown against the Flyers. They returned the following year to play a part in New Jersey’s rally against the Maple Leafs, and Elias was still around when the Devils beat Ottawa and Anaheim in back-to-back Game 7s in 2003.
As it happens, the second-term Devil Sykora, who figures to be back in the lineup after a series of scratches, was with the Mighty Ducks when they at least prolonged New Jersey’s victory with a 5-2 triumph in Game 6.
Five years later, as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Sykora slugged home a triple-overtime goal in Detroit to clinch a must-win Game 5 in the championship round. Although the Pens subsequently lost Game 6, he was back for the 2009 rematch, wherein Pittsburgh rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 series deficits to overcome from the Red Wings.
Granted, he only saw a negligible amount of action in that series. But the lone game he played in happened to be Game 6, the first of the Penguins’ two straight elimination victories.
Translation: Plugging in Sykora proved a rewarding decision by Pittsburgh skipper Dan Bylsma. Will the same hold true for Devils head coach Peter DeBoer?
There's no reason to think it could hurt. After all, between Brodeur, Elias and Sykora, the Devils have veterans who know this situation about as well as anybody.
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