Here we are again. Our beloved New Jersey Devils are on the brink of elimination after a tough 3-0 loss in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. At times, the Florida Panthers have dominated the Devils; however, New Jersey has hung in there against the scrappy Panthers. The Devils are one loss away from elimination, but I stand with those that believe New Jersey can pull off a series win. Give me ten chances to convince you that I am right.
Reason #1: Playoff Experience
Multiple players on the Devils roster have playoff experience. Martin Brodeur has three Stanley Cups, Patrik Elias has two, and Petr Sykora has one. Zach Parise, the captain of the Devils, knows what the playoffs are all about, as does Ilya Kovalchuk. Although the Devils have lost their last four games when facing elimination, Zach Parise said, "I think we’re a better team. I think we play a better team game than in the past. It’s been a tight series and every game was winnable for us, so there’s a lot of reason that we can win these next two games."
Reason #2: Prudential Center Plays Host to Game Six
Although the Devils must win their next two games in order to advance, the first battle comes Tuesday night at the Prudential Center. If the Devils are able to win on Tuesday night, Game Seven becomes a toss up. We'll discuss that in Reason #3, but for now, let's stick to the topic. During Game Four, the crowd was energized and the Devils played well. If the fans and the players can repeat this performance, the Devils will be fine.
Reason #3: Game Seven Becomes a Toss-Up With Game Six Victory
As mentioned above, if the Devils win Game Six, Game Seven is a toss-up. The previous six games do not matter. The statistics do not matter. All that matters is that the Devils play strong. Hopefully, with a Game Six win, New Jersey will gain some momentum and carry it over into Game Seven.
Reason #4: Pressure Heats Up
As the NHL playoffs grow deeper, the pressure heats up. With a hypothetical win in Game Six for New Jersey, the series will shift back to Florida for Game Seven. It has been mentioned over the last few days that if the series were to extend into Game Seven, more pressure would fall on the Florida Panthers than the Devils. I am not completely convinced that the Florida Panthers have what it takes to deal with such pressure. After watching the Devils all season, I can confidently say that New Jersey is certainly able to overcome obstacles and handle adversity.
Reason #5: Look Around the League
Boston and Washington, New York and Ottawa, Phoenix and Chicago. The Boston Bruins faced a 3-2 series deficit heading into today and won in overtime against the Washington Capitals to force a Game Seven. What is interesting about this fact is that Boston won Game Six on the road. New Jersey will have it somewhat easier with Game Six at home. No one is counting the Bruins out now and the same will be true for Jersey with a Game Six victory. The New York Rangers also trail their series, 3-2, against the Ottawa Senators. Like it or not, the Rangers have been a good team all year and fell just short of the President's Trophy. Certainly, they are not out of it. Finally, the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Phoenix Coyotes last night and trail in the series 3-2. With some momentum, Chicago is certainly not out of the playoffs just yet.
Reason #6: No Lead is Safe
Devils fans, how confident would you be with a 3-2 series lead? While you would feel somewhat better about our situation, the possibility of Florida winning the series would not be out of the question. The Devils blew a three-goal lead in Game Three. What would have happened if Florida gave up? The Devils cannot give up now and will have to fight to win this series. However, this is a fight that can be won. This brings me to my next reason...
Reason #7: May 14, 2010
We look no further than our Atlantic Division rivals for a perfect example of hard work and determination. The Philadelphia Flyers squared off against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Boston jumped out to a 3-0 series lead. Philadelphia battled back to tie the series at three. Even after trailing by three goals in Game Seven, the Flyers did not give up. Philly won the game and the series, 4-3. Although our hatred towards the Flyers grows more and more each day, their aggressive and heart-filled play led them to victory. Can the Devils duplicate this performance? I think so.
Reason #8: Football and Baseball
Look everyone, I will be honest with you. If there is one thing I have learned from being a New York Mets and Seattle Seahawks fan, it is that ANYTHING in the world of sports is possible. Maybe I've hinted at it before, but this series is far from over. No one is eliminated until the final horn sounds. It sounds cliche, but it is definitely true.
Reason #9: Parise, Parise, Parise
Zach Parise knows what has to be done. Parise also knows that he is in the last year of his contract and if he wants big money next year, he will have to produce. By taking a strong leadership standpoint throughout this series, Parise will improve not only his current situation, but also his future. Of course, just like any other professional athlete, Zach wants to win a championship. It's time to put a little bit more faith in Parise and let him handle things as he sees fit. With veteran leaders like Parise, Martin Brodeur, and Patrik Elias, the Devils will be good to go.
Reason #10: A Look Back at This Season
How often were the New Jersey Devils faced with hardships and adversity this season? Twice the Devils lost three in a row, and twice the Devils lost four in a row. One of the most inspirational lines I've ever heard states, "Don't let your performance affect your effort. Let your effort affect your performance." The world of sports is all about how well one handles difficulties. Put games one through five behind us. Let's focus on winning the next two. New Jersey certainly is able to do so. Even at the low points of the season, the Devils were tough and always "came out swinging," said Head Coach Peter DeBoer. Look for the Devils to play with some fire on Tuesday and Thursday.
Above: Goaltender Martin Brodeur #30 of the New Jersey Devils looks down at the puck in the net as Shawn Matthias #18 celebrates the goal by Scottie Upshall #19 (not pictured) of the Florida Panthers in the third period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the BankAtlantic Center on April 21, 2012 in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Devils 3-0. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images North America) View more photos at http://tinyurl.com/83htfwz.
Game Six is Tuesday night at 7:30 in Newark. If we win--scratch that--WHEN we win, make sure you check back here for your game recap. Follow the @RWTDblog staff on twitter: @RealScottRobb, @DEVIN88MATTERA, and @Rvaidya33; like us on facebook, too.
One more time... LET'S GO DEVILS!