Despite having not made it past the second round of the playoffs since the 2002-2003 season, there were high hopes for the New Jersey Devils this postseason. The offense was ranked among the top half of the league, led by Zach Parise and Patrik Elias.
Goaltender Martin Brodeur, guilty of having been overworked in past seasons, missed most of the season but is healthy now and fresh.
Martin Brodeur, 36, does not have many great years left in him and it seemed like now or never. Their first-round matchup was against a Carolina Hurricanes squad that is undoubtedly talented but perceived as being too soft to advance in the playoffs.
Give credit to Carolina, they stepped up the physicality and played a terrific series. However, I will remember this series for the finishes of Game 4 and 7 as the defense collapsed.
Carolina actually had a flurry of offensive chances at the end of Game 5 as well but Martin Brodeur prevailed as the Devils won 1-0.
But Game 4 left me stunned, Game 7 nearly left me in the fetal position. (When I needed to be studying for a test in my General Business class too.)
Despite being manhandled for nearly two periods worth of hockey, the New Jersey Devils were staring overtime in the face after coming back from a 3-0 deficit late in the second period.
The defense was unable to hold the puck in the corner or clear the zone; the Carolina Hurricanes worked the puck back to the point and a Dennis Seidenberg shot went in off of Jussi Jokinen's skate and in the net with just .2 seconds left on the clock.
Game 7 is one to remember forever, the New Jersey Devils had a 3-2 lead with just 80 seconds to go and one of the best goalies of all-time in net. Jokinen scored on a one-timer off a great pass across ice. Eric Staal scored with 32 seconds left; it was the latest third-period game-winning goal in Game 7 history.
I'm not quite at point where I can write a rational recap of the series and look ahead to what the Devils need to do to avoid this again.
It was the worst day as a New Jersey Devils fan since the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals game against the New York Rangers when Stephane Matteau scored on a wrap-around in overtime.
I'm gonna feel sick for the rest of the playoffs as I'm sure many other Devils fans will be.
What I know is we may are nearing the end of a long streak of playoff appearances and success in the playoffs. Brodeur is getting old, the offense still needs work as the reacquiring of Brian Rolston did not have the impact expected, and conservative play murdered the Devils late in games
It looks like it is time for some changes in Jersey, or another first-round exit.
Now if you will excuse me...I have a toilet to throw up in.