Game 6: A New “King” Hen-rique and Your Eastern Conference Champion NJ Devils
Added by Michael DiGiacomo on May 29, 2012.
The 2012 Eastern Conference Champion, New Jersey Devils
From the fans to the players, this series lived up to the hype. What better script could be written than defeating two division rivals en route to a 5th Stanley Cup Finals? The only ending I could see suitable is with the good guys lifting Lord Stanley.
You knew Game 6 in Newark with the New Jersey Devils hosting the New York Rangers would deliver. And deliver it did. The atmosphere in the building was energetic long before the puck dropped at center ice. It started in Championship Plaza, up the escalators, and in the seats. Devils fans were ready to make noise and ready to send the Rangers home early.
If there was ever a new headline that needed to be written, it was the Devils ousting the Rangers in 6 games at home in order to play for the Stanley Cup. This team hasn’t showed any love towards each other in the past 30 years. The Rangers wanted to control the tempo of the game, but failed to do so. While some ping pong like play kicked off the first period in the neutral zone, the Devils were quickly able to control their nerves and took complete control of the first period. Just about half way through the 1st period at 10:05, Devils Ryan Carter changed the scoreboard. The 4th line has given every team headaches thus far and, for Henrik Lundqvist, that didn’t change.
The Devils drew first blood and were relentless on their forecheck yet again. If that didn’t hurt, Devils were able to grab a 2-0 lead on a power play goal by Ilya Kovalchuk that beautifully touched every players stick on the ice and was one timed home by the Russian stud. While the hockey universe was stunned with the Devils level of play in the first 20 minutes, two usual characters had to crash the party.
Ruslan Fedotenko & Ryan Callahan both netted goals in the second period to hush the crowd at Prudential Center. I watched a Devils team go from dominant to reckless as they couldn’t clear the zone and couldn’t answer the Rangers energy for most of the 2nd and 3rd periods. While the Devils and Rangers both put 14 shots on goal in the 1st period, Rangers put on the heat by out shooting the Devils 21 to 12. So, if an epic game was going to end, why not have it end in overtime? For the first time this series, both teams found themselves in a very interesting situation. Devils win, and play for a 4th Stanley Cup. Devils lose, and they go back to MSG which I don’t think anyone wanted. Nevertheless, big moments create big memories.
What was probably the 2nd most important goal of his career, Adam Henrique, 1:03 into overtime, sent the Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals. He kept the Devils cup run alive by scoring the double overtime goal in Game 7 versus the Panthers and now does it in the Eastern Conference finals against their cross river rivals.
“That’s a big one. That’s one you dream about,” Henrique said. Peter Deboer also knows that everything happens for a reason. “I mean, this kid is in just the right place, at the right time. The two biggest goals of the playoffs come off his stick. That’s not accidental,” Deboer mentioned.
While 99% of Ranger fans out there will say the Devils got lucky and still put their team in a higher elite status than the Devils, the fact of the matter is, luck didn’t win this series and the #1 seeded Rangers will be on the outside looking in as a cup drought will now extended to 19 years.
This series could have easily gone either way by how tight all 6 games were played despite two shutout wins by the Rangers. It’s been an amazing run for Jersey’s team and the best is yet to come. On to the cup finals we go as the puck drops Wednesday 8pm at The Prudential Center for Game 1.