Last season, the New Jersey Devils failed to make the playoffs despite finishing 20-9-1 in the last 30 games. This season, they were so close to a Stanley Cup championship, but couldn't get past the gritty Los Angeles Kings.
Despite not winning the cup, this season will be remembered for the positive aspects the Devils brought to the table.
The Devils finished this season fourth place in the Atlantic Division. Zach Parise, Patrik Elias and Ilya Kovalchuk were successful all season and the Devils returned to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2003, when they won their third cup.
One thing is for sure: This season was not a fluke.
They had three 30-goal scorers in Kovalchuk, Parise and David Clarkson. Rookie Adam Henrique was impressive and made big plays when they mattered the most, especially in the playoffs. In the Stanley Cup playoffs, Henrique had three huge game-winning goals.
Veteran's Elias and Petr Sykora also stepped up this year and turned the Devils into a threatening team that improved significantly from the year prior.
Also, how can we go without mentioning Martin Brodeur?
Brodeur is arguably the greatest goaltender to have ever played the game, and at 40 years old, he just played in his 17th postseason with the Devils. That's an accomplishment in and of itself. But to beat the Panthers, Flyers and the practically unstoppable Rangers on the way to the final round? That's impressive.
Even though the Devils didn't end their season raising Lord Stanley's Cup in the air, the 2011-2012 season will go down as a success in NHL history.
They played tough, defeated teams when the odds were against them and were only two games away from being Stanley Cup champions for the fourth time since 1995.