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  • New Jersey has hope, but is that it? Print
    Written by Frank Seravalli   
    Saturday, 09 June 2012 02:42

    After losing the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final, the Devils are heading back to New Jersey with a renewed vigor and a glimmer of hope. Now all they have to do is beat Los Angeles in Newark, which will be no small task.

    Frank SeravalliNEWARK, N.J. – Two days after flirting with death on the Left Coast, Martin Brodeur was smiling and feeling fresh on Friday at the Prudential Center podium.

    Finally, Brodeur said, the New Jersey Devils had gotten deliverance on the same effort that produced losses in Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

    “We didn’t think we’d played bad,” Brodeur said. “But no results. It was nice to get a result last game. We should build off that, try to improve as we go on. We’re going to need to." 

    "They’re one win away from having their dreams come true.”

    Yes, the Devils avoided elimination on Wednesday, forcing an entire league to shift its focus 2,470 miles to the East.

    But is this team actually capable of pulling off the miracle just one team has ever done? Or was their win in Game 4 to avoid a sweep just an exercise in futility and a waste of jet fuel?

    History, odds and numbers answer that question pretty succinctly. The echoes of the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, the only team in NHL history to erase a 3-0 series deficit in the Stanley Cup Final, have already been awakened.

    The team in a 3-0 hole is just 1-for-29 in the Final.

    “You know it’s going to happen again,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. “You’re not going to go 200 years without someone else doing it. It’s been long enough; it might as well be us. So, why not us? I think that’s the approach.”

    Maybe Brodeur was onto something.

    You know, it has been done more recently than the ’42 Leafs. I had the privilege to chronicle history for the Philadelphia Daily News, with the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers outlasting both a 3-0 series deficit and a 3-0 hole in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Boston Bruins.

    Truth is in the beginning of this Stanley Cup Final the Devils reminded me a lot of the 2010 Flyers.

    The Flyers lost Game 1 in overtime. They lost Game 2 by one goal, scored with just 2:57 left in the third period. They were blown out 4-1 in Game 3 before stealing Game 4.

    See a resemblance?

    In both of the first two games, the Flyers – like New Jersey – outplayed the Bruins, yet trailed by two games.

    For the Flyers, though, the series never really seemed to shift until they won Game 5. That’s the moment they began to place doubt in Boston’s collective conscious.

    Sending the series back to Los Angeles would also do something no team has ever done this postseason: force the Kings to go at least six games to win a series.

    The Devils have that opportunity on Saturday night in Game 5 at Prudential Center. It’s important to point out that the Kings are perfect on the road so far this postseason, so they would need to do something no team has been able to do this spring.

    But sending the series back to Los Angeles would also do something no team has ever done this postseason: force the Kings to go at least six games to win a series. This time, it’s for hockey’s ultimate prize. It’s a different kind of pressure.

    The Devils have improved in every series as it has gone along. They’ve figured out their opponent, something they said took a little longer against a team they haven’t seen since October. The Kings have made quick work of the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 seeds in the Western Conference in short order.

    “I think we’ve been a team all year that’s kind of dipped our toe in the pool to check the temperature before we’ve jumped in with both feet,” DeBoer said. “I also think that, as a series goes on, we recognize what's working for us and what isn't. We try and fix those things.”

    The Devils fixed those things in Game 4, but can they do it for the long haul? The beginning of the series would suggest that this Stanley Cup Final is a lot closer than the standings would indicate.

    “Even when we’re losing, even when (Henrik) Lundqvist or (Jonathan) Quick shuts us out, the opportunities are there,” DeBoer said. “There's no doubt that a win changes your mindset and relieves that pressure that you're finally getting rewarded for honest work.”

    There’s a lot more work to be done.

    Frank Seravalli covers the Flyers for the Philadelphia Daily News. On Twitter: @DNFlyers

    Photos by Getty Images

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    Last Updated on Saturday, 09 June 2012 02:56