I know, I know, it's not the Rangers, but Game 5 tonight at The Rock in Newark may be the final NHL game until November, given the CBA issues, so we're going to give ourselves some wiggle room on the site here. Sorry to all the Blueshirt purists: It's quiet out there at the moment.
Here's my advance for tonight's game, filed last night after practices at Pru:
NEWARK, N.J. ---Is raising the Stanley Cup next week highly improbable for the Devils? Sure.
“We know the odds and the numbers are stacked against us,” said Devils captain Zach Parise on the eve of Saturday’s Game 5 of the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final, which the Los Angeles Kings lead three games to one. “It doesn’t bother us. Our plan is to win the second one. All we were thinking about was to get the series back to New Jersey. Now it’s about trying to get back to L.A. (for Game 6).”
At Staples Center on Wednesday, the coronation celebration was put on hold because the Kings didn’t stick the pitchfork in the Devils when they had a chance, allowing three goals in the third period as the Devils won Game 4, 3-1. The Devils had scored just twice in the first three games.
“We were looking for something to spark us,” goaltender Martin Brodeur said after a loose practice yesterday. “Hopefully that big win, late in the third period, is something that for them, getting to be so close to it, not getting it in front of their fans, hopefully, that will start something. Again, it's a long ways away for us.”
It could be a long evening tonight at Prudential Center, given the track record of road overtimes. The Kings beat the Canucks in Vancouver in overtime in the fifth game of the West quarterfinals, winning 2-1 on Jarret Stoll’s goal. After sweeping St. Louis, they edged the Coyotes, 4-3, in Phoenix in Game 5, on Dustin Penner’s overtime goal. And the first two games of this series here were 2-1 overtime victories.
But the Devils have been closers, rallying to beat the Florida Panthers in Games 6 and 7 after falling behind 3-2 in the quarterfinals and winning three straight to oust the Rangers after trailing 2-1.
“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,” said coach Peter DeBoer. “That's been one of our characteristics...As a series goes on, we recognize what's working for us and what isn't. We try and fix those things.”
On the road, where the Kings have won ten straight games this season, there is little to fix. The Kings certainly are defying the odds.
Could it be the Devils turn? Only one team has won the Cup after being down 3-0: The 1942 Maple Leafs.
“You know it’s going to happen again, so why not us? ” DeBoer asked yesterday. “That’s the approach. You’re not going to go 200 years without someone else doing it. It’s been long enough. It might as well be us.”