The Devils have knocked off the top seeded Rangers, and they head to the Stanley Cup Finals to face the Los Angeles Kings.
The Devils scored twice in the first, the first by Ryan Carter, and the second on the Powerplay by Ilya Kovalchuk. That would cap the scoring for the first, as the Devils came out on fire. The Rangers were able to come back the second period, behind a pair of goals from Ruslan Fedotenko and Ryan Callahan. For the rest of the game, it would be extremely close knit, and we would head to a dramatic overtime. The Devils came out on top due to a hard work goal, finished off by the rookie Adam Henrique, and ended the series in 6.
I suppose history doesn't repeat itself after all. The Rangers made a valiant effort, but in the end, the fast start of the Devils was too much for the Rangers to overcome. I don't expect the Rangers to be done contending for rings. In fact, I expect quite the opposite. The Rangers are still, in my opinion, one of the top 5 teams in the league, and are still on the rise. A full year of NHL work will be beneficial for phenom Chris Kreider, and another year of development for a young team will help as well. Lundqvist is in no way regressing, and Brad Richards will be solid once again. Marion Gaborik will score goals and Callahan will be good again. This team will be a threat for years to come.
But, this is about the Devils, the Eastern Conference Champions. Who would have picked them to come out of the East? I know I didn't. I actually did not have high hopes for the Devils whatsoever going into the season. I didn't think they would make the playoffs coming into the season to be honest. But, they've shocked and impressed me throughout the year, so I sit here today writing about their Championship berth. They have a good core, led by the living legend Marty Brodeur. Parise, Zajac, and Kovalchuk will make a huge impact, and it will be interesting to see how rookies Adam Henrique and Larsson react to the high stakes. They have received a huge boost from their lower lines, which will also be a huge reason they either win or lose in the next round.
Now, the Kings are also a phenomenal team. I'm picking them to win the series in 6. To me, they have the perfect mix of youth, experience, and talent, and Quick is possibly the best goalie in the league behind Lundqvist. The key to the series, in my opinion, is- you guessed it- capitalizing on powerplays. The Kings have to get advantages in order to beat Brodeur often, as do the Devils to beat Quick. I'm hoping that we see strong, clean, hockey in a series we will surely remember.
What are you predictions for the series? Comment below or tweet me @tartmaster.