April 21, 2008
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's Scotty Hockey of the brilliantly named Rangers blog Scotty Hockey recalling the Devils' season.
New Jersey Devil fan Yogi Berra once said, "It ain't over, 'til it's over." Folks, now it is indeed over.
It is with regret and sadness that we join here today to mourn the loss of the New Jersey Devils' Stanley Cup hopes. On Friday, April 18 (video), those delusions of grandeur were dashed before a raucous crowd of Ranger fans in Newark, New Jersey.
I know you feel deep sadness and regret; the tears of Martin Brodeur will forever stain the pages of newspapers. His naked emotion mirrored that of our own, for there was so many false hopes that were stripped bare and lost, like the teeth of Zach Parise.
We remember those playoff dreams fondly. There was promise in the mind of Madden, in the pads of Brodeur, in the complaints and cries of Coach Sutter. Just to start the playoffs with the same coach who brought us there was a remarkable feat that helped raise our expectations.
But despite the venerable blogger Greg Wyshynski boosting those dreams even higher with a prediction of seven game success (Ed. Note: Stupid Internet), this season goes six feet under after just five postseason tilts.
Victory was well within their reach. If not for a moment of hesitation, Ryan Callahan would have never scored the go-ahead goal in Game 1. If not for a minute of relaxation, Jaromir Jagr and Sean Avery wouldn't have scored two goals in 23 seconds to win Game 2. If not for a miscommunication between Patrik Elias and Colin White, Martin Straka wouldn't have been able to set up Marc Staal for the deciding goal of Game 4. And if not for the absolute lack of offensive skill by John Madden, Chris Drury's goal wouldn't have been able to stand up as the series-clincher on Friday. If, if, if, if. Ifs are the solace of the lonely losers. Tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk.
Oh, but we were not lonely; the Devils had friends ... those fine officials that hurt us so bad in Game 2 renewed their karma upon the alter of Game 3 continued forth through the final two games. But it was not to be, as they couldn't match the depth of roster built by the cigar-munching Glen Sather and guided by the polite Tom Renney. Winning one of eight games in the regular season was just not enough. Scoring five power play goals on 23 chances in the five playoff games was just not enough. Slapping a stick against the boards and crying out to supposed compatriots (video) was just not enough. Being handed a penalty shot on a silver platter was just not enough. Having the so-called greatest goaltender of all time was just not enough.
But all was not lost: The villainy of Sean Avery was brought closer to the light and the NHL struck him down. His dastardly deeds went unpunished at the time but no harm will come henceforth from him or other miscreants like him as they perform such heinous, classless acts in the crease.
They skate away with their heads held high, knowing that their integrity was maintained as the face of the Devils' franchise refused to lower himself to acknowledge the evil Avery. His success went unnoticed as he smugly attempted to fulfill the honourable post-series handshake.
How dare Avery attempt to raise himself above the fray, when everything the Devils have built lies within the team, not the individual ... unless its Marty, then its OK, but that's something else for another mournful day.
They say that there is strength in numbers, but in this case Devils fans will have to provide their own solace; as the many fans who filled the seats in the Newark continue to cheer for their team across the Hudson River.
As those waters continue to flow, the Devils too will move on to an early tee time, a chance of renewal in the warmth of summer and a shot at gold in the pools of Beijing (video).