Sunday, April 22, 2007

New Jersey Devils Advance (argh) [J. Mark English]

Chrissy, Philadelphia, New York, and me (and A.J.?)...we can all agree. We despise the New Jersey Devils. With the exception perhaps of David. By the way, how many Devil fans actually exist? I mean where do they live? Do they live with the keebler elves? Is that why they are so hard to find because they hide in tress?

I mean seriously, this is a team that struggles to sell out a PLAYOFF game. In game one against Tampa Bay their attendance was 14,495. Are you kidding me? Is that the best they can do. And they are going to be the first team in the tri-state area to get a new stadium. Do they really deserve one?

The last few times they have won the Cup they could only get a handful of fans to fill the parking lot the Meadowlands to celebrate their victory. Imagine the eruption that would occur in Philadelphia if that city won oh say a lacrosse championship. It would make New Jersey look pretty damn said compared to a sports loving town like Philadelphia, and even New York.

Grrrrr. To borrow a phrase from Peter Griffin, it just really grinds my gears that the franchise exists. They have three Stanley Cups, which is perfect since that is one championship for every fan they have.

Be that as it may, the Devils advanced today by defeating the Tampa Bay Lightening four games to two. If somehow the New York Rangers can get past the Buffalo Sabres, and the Devils past the Ottawa Senators, then it would not only be a rematch of last years first round match up but a rematch of the famed 1994 Eastern Conference Finals which was one of the best playoff series of all time.

Here is a recap of todays game from the New Jersey Devils website:

The script for game six could have fit on a cocktail napkin.

First, score the first goal. Second, get outstanding goaltending from Martin Brodeur.

The Devils executed step one on a first-period tally from Brian Gionta, and Brodeur held up his end of the bargain with 32 saves, as New Jersey eliminated the Tampa Bay Lightning from the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 3-2 victory at the St. Pete Times Forum on Sunday.

The Devils wrapped up their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal four games to two, and advance to play the Ottawa Senators in the second round.

In each of the previous five games, the team to score first was able to secure a win. It was surely a good sign, then, when Patrik Elias fed a short pass from the middle of the ice to a breaking Gionta, and the Devils’ right winger beat Lightning netminder Johan Holmqvist high to his short side for a power play marker at 15:29 of the opening period.

It was the first of three assists in the game for Elias, who has surpassed the 100-point plateau for his playoff career, and now has 101 points (35g-66a) in the postseason.

With the first lead of the game claimed by New Jersey, Brian Rafalski then made it 2-0 at 1:21 of the second period, as the Devils scored their first two goals with the man advantage.

Later in the period, with Scott Gomez serving a New Jersey penalty for too many men, Tampa closed to within one of the Devils when Brad Richardsone-timer from the right circle beat Brodeur at 5:10.

But the Devils needed just 39 seconds to respond, as a Lightning defensive zone turnover resulted in Gionta’s second of the game at 5:49. He now has five goals this postseason, one behind Zach Parise for the league lead.

Neither team scored in the third period, though the Lightning created a handful of excellent opportunities against Brodeur. Most noteworthy was a stop that Brodeur made against Lightning defenseman Filip Kuba with just under seven minutes remaining in regulation.

A game after the Devils had blocked 20 Lightning shots, Brodeur received the same support once more, as this time the Devils got in the way of 13 Tampa attempts, including six by Richard Matvichuk.

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