If the Prudential Center advertising of “Guaranteed Wow” always made you chuckle like a little schoolgirl because of how corny it was, it sure changed after Monday night’s Game 4 victory for the Devils over the Rangers. It was simply a wow!
Energetic, entertaining, shake your mother kind of night. The Devils were all business as they set the tone and put it on repeat for 60 minutes, tying the series at two games in this best of seven Eastern Conference Stanley Cup Finals.
The Devils were relentless in their attack in every aspect of the game. The forwards controlled the puck and fired away on Henrik Lundqvist, while the defenseman held the blue line and eventually opened up the scoring 8:10 into the game with a point shot from Bryce Salvador. The 6’ 3” 215lb defenseman has found the back of the net more times in the past 16 post season games then he did in the previous 50 post season appearances. Has he ever been this hot before? “I lit it up once when I was 11 or 12,” Salvador mentioned.
Playoffs always bring out the best in players. So, after a super human comeback this year after missing an entire season, it’s fitting he gets rewarded. Looks like he found the candy bar with the Golden Ticket.
Zach Parise was also a man on a mission. I don’t know if bounce back game is fitting for this American stud. He went from having one point in three games to three points in one game to help his squad take ownership of the most important game of the series. The way the Devils and Parise have been playing, it was just a matter of time before the captain ended his scoreless drought.
“Like I said, it’s not from a lack of effort. It’s not that we’re not playing well,” Parise mentioned.
The Devils couldn’t get the bounces they needed in Games 1 and 3, but living in the past doesn’t help psyche. Peter DeBoer shook up the lines, and his squad went full steam ahead. It was a breath of fresh air seeing the Devils fight in front of Lundqvist when they just didn’t do it that much in the previous three games.
2:49 later, Parise fed a pass to Travis Zajac as Zach blew by Michael Del Zotto stepping up to try to keep the puck in the Devils end. Lundqvist had no chance to stop the shot even after a sliding Dan Girardi tried to break up the play. That goal is still giving me chills today. It was pretty as they come.
With a dominant first period, the game going forward was relatively quiet. Quiet meaning no more goals were scored until the third period. The Devils shots on goal slowed down, while the Rangers shot total slowly climbed higher, leading to a total of 30 by the Devils and 29 by the Rangers to wrap up the game.
The brightest spots in this game for the Rangers came at the 18:20 mark of the 1st period when Dainius Zubrus was sent off for tripping. The Rangers controlled the puck for the majority of that penalty and put anxiety into the home team fans. Martin Brodeur came up huge with two pad saves to end the period with the score still 2-0.
The Rangers had no answers for the Devils through 99% of the game. They finally woke up deep in the 3rd period as Ruslan Fedotenko cracked Brodeur’s goose egg and were able to provide a little extra pressure during the final 6 minutes. Regardless of what final effort there was, it was too late to do any damage to a Devils team playing with purpose.
The Devils were able to break down the Rangers all over the ice and the pressure eventually exploded like a volcano for both players and coaches. While Dainius Zubrus and Jacob Josefson didn’t receive any extra star attention, the sure deserved it. While Josefson provided speed and puck control through the neutral zone and offensive end, Zubrus was a maniac on the ice finishing checks and winning puck battles.
The Devils dished out a full team effort all around. It’s fun to watch the Devils really play to their full potential and make hockey exciting this time of the year. For anyone thinking this finals matchup has been boring, you clearly need your head examined because what better path to the cup is there than having two hated cross river rivals battle it out to go to the big dance?
Let’s see if the Devils can steal a game at MSG in front of what will be a rowdy crowd to say the least. If the Devils can get in the Rangers heads at home, we might be able to watch this team flop around like fish out of water and have a chance to win at home Friday night.
Expect the Rangers to play like its Game 7. If Wednesday night is booked or you have a date, reschedule the plans and dump the date because you’re in for a treat.