By John Schweibacher
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The New Jersey Devils came up two wins short in their quest for a fourth Stanley Cup crown, losing to the Los Angeles Kings four games to two in the finals.
New Jersey was the third team to win Games 4 and 5 of a Stanley Cup Final after losing the first three games of the series. The Toronto Maple Leafs did it in 1942 against the Red Wings (Toronto also won Games 6 and 7 to win the Cup), and three years later the Detroit Red Wings almost returned the favor against the Leafs, taking three straight games after going down 3-0 before falling in Game 7.
The Devils went 4 and 1 when facing elimination this postseason, winning Games 6 and 7 in the opening round against the Florida Panthers in addition to the Game 4 and 5 victories against Los Angeles in the Final. The 1975 New York Islanders staved off elimination an NHL-record eight times before losing Game 7 of their Semifinals series against the Philadelphia Flyers that season.
New Jersey went 4 and 3 in overtime in the post-season but lost both Games 1 and 2 against the Kings in sudden-death, dropping their all-time OT record in Stanley Cup Final games to 1-5:
•2000 Game 5 lost vs. Dallas 1-0 Mike Modano
•2000 Game 6 won at Dallas 2-1 Jason Arnott
•2003 Game 3 lost at Anaheim 3-2 Ruslan Salei
•2003 Game 4 lost at Anaheim 1-0 Steve Thomas
•2012 Game 1 lost vs. Los Angeles 2-1 Anze Kopitar
•2012 Game 2 lost vs. Los Angeles 2-1 Jeff Carter
Martin Brodeur is leaning toward returning next season, but if this year’s Stanley Cup Final proves to be his last, the future Hall of Famer who wears number 30 will have played in 30 Final games, going 17 and 13.
Brodeur finished this post-season with a 2.12 goals against average, his best in the playoffs since posting a 1.65 GAA back in the Devils’ Cup-winning 2003 run.
The Devils goaltender wound up playing in 83 games this season, combining his 59 regular season and 24 post-season outings, the fifth-most total appearances of his career:
Jonathan Quick, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy, is only the second goaltender to record a goals against average below 2.00 in four different playoff series in one postseason. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the other was Martin Brodeur, who did so in 2003, the last time the Devils won the Stanley Cup.
Quick is the third goalie to win the Conn Smythe in the same post-season in which they faced New Jersey in the finals, joining Patrick Roy (Colorado 2001) and J.S. Giguere (Anaheim 2003). Mike Vernon, who the Devils defeated in the 1995 Final, returned to win the Conn Smythe in 1997 with Detroit. Ed Belfour (Dallas 2000) is the only one of the five starting goaltenders New Jersey has now faced in the Stanley Cup Final who never won playoff-MVP honors.
Pete DeBoer led the Devils to 14 playoff wins in his first trip to the postseason. The 14 victories place him fourth on the club’s all-time coaching list:
•Jacques Lemaire 35
•Larry Robinson 31
•Pat Burns 17
•Pete DeBoer 14
•Jim Schoenfeld 11
•Lou Lamoriello 10
The Kings’ Darryl Sutter became the first of the six Sutter brothers to win the Stanley Cup as a head coach Duane Sutter won four as a player, while ex-Devils coach Brent won twice. Each of their six came with the New York Islanders.
Sutter also became the 5th mid-season coaching replacement to win the Stanley Cup, becoming the first since Dan Bylsma (2009 Penguins). Larry Robinson won the Cup in 2000 after replacing Robbie Ftorek in March.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Kings become the second team in the four major sports to win a championship with as many as three different head coaches/managers during the regular season, joining the 1978 Yankees (Billy Martin, Dick Howser and Bob Lemon). L.A. began with Terry Murray, who was fired on December 12th and replaced by John Stevens on an interim basis (4 games). The Kings then hired Darryl Sutter on December 20th.
Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter and Trevor Lewis scored in a span of 3 minutes and 58 seconds of the first period during Steve Bernier’s five-minute boarding major to give the Kings a 3-0 lead in their eventual 6-1 victory over the Devils. According to Elias, the only team in NHL history to score three goals in a shorter time frame in the clinching game of the Stanley Cup Final was the New York Islanders in 1983. Bryan
Trottier, John Tonelli and Mike Bossy scored within one minute and 37 seconds in Game Four of that series, finishing off the Isles’ sweep of the Edmonton Oilers.
Bryce Salvador, who finished the playoffs with four goals and 10 assists, scored the game-winning goal in the Devils’ 2-1 victory in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. Salvador played all 82 games for New Jersey in the 2011-12 regular season without scoring a single goal. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he became the first player in NHL history to score a goal in a Stanley Cup Final after playing in 80 or more games and not scoring a goal in that preceding regular season.
The old record was held by another New Jersey Devils defenseman, Ken Daneyko, who scored a goal in Game 1 of the 2000 Final against the Dallas Stars, after going goalless in 78 games in the 1999-2000 season.
Plus: Adam Henrique. Devils center set club record for rookies with 13 playoff points, breaking Scott Gomez’ old mark of 10 in 2000 and matching Doug Brown’s rookie post-season goal scoring total of five set 1988.
Minus: Penalty-Kill. New Jersey set a modern NHL record with an 89.6 PK percentage in the regular season, giving up just 27 power-play goals but allowed 21 in the playoffs, including the three in the Game 6 loss to the Kings.
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