April 30, 2009
(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. Gone but not forgotten, we've asked for these losers to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The fans who hated them the most. Here is Carolina Hurricanes blogger Dave McBrayer of Carolina on Ice and Barry Melrose Rocks, fondly recalling the New Jersey Devils.)
By Dave McBrayer
We gather here today to bid farewell to this season's incarnation of the New Jersey Devils.
While they apparently were fondling the idea of the conference semifinals, the Carolina Hurricanes came in and shocked The Rock with two goals in the last 90 seconds of Game 7. But the fact that they had home ice as a No. 3 seed was astounding enough considering their fortunes this season.
Twelve months ago -- would anyone have thought that this guy could save the Devils?
Scott Clemmensen, who if he were lucky might get to start two games this year outside of mop-up duty? The same goaltender who just one year ago was in the AHL? Surely "Shady Eighty" (Weekes) wasn't going to get the job done. Who actually thought the Devils weren't doomed once Martin Brodeur was put on long-term DL with an elbow injury?
Yet towards season's end, as the Devils had played solid and were even sniffing the President's Trophy, they had effectively swam through a river of poo and came out smelling like roses.
And how did they show their appreciation to Clemmensen? Sorry dude, but it's a numbers thing -- now enjoy that Lock Monsters uniform.
Scott essentially became the 2008-2009 version of Ty Conklin -- carry your team as the backup through the regular season and enjoy watching the team from the bench in the postseason.
In the playoffs, the Devils drew their old familiar foe in the Carolina Hurricanes for the first round. The infusion of old-school Devils players brought hope that they could move on past the first round this season. With players like Shanny, Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik back on the squad -- it was time to party like it's 2001.
Was there any question that this was the best first-round series of the playoffs? There were no two teams who were so evenly matched out of the entire 16-team field. The Devils could have pulled it out ...
... if not for Marty Brodeur breaking his lucky stick after Game 4.
At first, it didn't appear to be all downhill for NJ. They pitched a shutout in the classic Game 5 goaltender's duel -- but their fortunes certainly turned south following that one. Game 6 saw them get curb-stomped in an elimination game for Carolina, 4-0 -- setting up the epic Game 7 back in Newark.
They had it in the bag, man. Up 3-2 through the whole third period, the Devils fans were waving their towels and raucously screaming their appreciation for Marty and the boys as the dispatch of the Hurricanes seemed to be underway.
Not so fast, there folks.
"It's me again, Marty."
Still shocked by giving up the tying goal, Eric Staal skated down the right wing with 88 seconds left and fired a wrister that beat Marty to take the lead, 4-3. Astonishing finish. The looks of the players and the fans were similar:
What a stunning way to lose. Methinks this one is going to sting for a while, Devils fans.
(Please join us this afternoon when services will be held for the New York Rangers.)