The 2011-12 Season Ends. Devils and Dust.
Added by Michael DiGiacomo on June 26, 2012.
The Devils season came to an unfortunate ending, but it was certainly a storied run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
For about 48 hours, every New Jersey Devils fan in the world believed history was about to be rewritten. The Devils seemed to have the Kings right where they wanted them, back on their heels, watching their 3-0 series lead slip away to host a Game 6 up 3-2 at the Staples Center, and then we all watched our world come crashing down.
Our dream season imploded within 15 minutes and 1 second after a boarding major by Steve Bernier. While the Devils have fought back from behind before, this was like climbing Mount Everest with Zdeno Chara on your back.
I don’t plan on littering my article with stats for this piece but merely provide some insight and closure on a storybook run that ended in tragedy. Now that the dust has settled and the emotions have subsided, we can relive some terrific moments and growth spurts that we as a team had not seen in quite some time.
Seeing our season end in the fashion it did brought out the truck driver mouth I never knew I had. I shut myself down from the world, I stormed out of the bar, and tried to wrap my brain about what could have been while staring at my Game 7 tickets that will never get scanned at The Prudential Center doors. A lot of fans will blame the referees, a lot of fans will blame Bernier, but my conspiracy lies with Los Angeles Kings, Rob Scuderi.
Bernier has not changed his style of play all season. He had a very similar hit on Dan Girardi that went uncalled in the Eastern Conference Finals and was one of the few Devils who consistently threw his weight around. I was convinced from the first replay of the boarding call and ejection that Scuderi purposely changed his direction and made the ultimate sacrifice. I hope it was worth almost losing his nose and teeth in the process and he might have scars forever to remind him of that play.
If you watch the replay of that hit, Scuderi looks over his right shoulder to determine the play to make but also clearly see what type of pressure was coming his way. He originally planned to break out behind the net and Jonathan Quick but decided to change direction, turn his back completely to Bernier, and get crunched along the boards. I don’t think I need to take you through the next 49:10. The Los Angeles Kings went on to with their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
There’s a few things Devils fans need to realize. Despite half the roster being UFA’s this year, we showed we can compete with any team in the NHL and provide some hope that the future is bright in New Jersey. Yes, Martin Brodeur will not be around for much longer, Zach Parise could potentially sign elsewhere, and some other key members like Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora are close to older man status. Our club proved a lot to everyone in the NHL and around the country that the New Jersey Devils can and will still make noise when in cup contention. We have a great coaching staff that all will be returning next year, we have youth in our system that has proved they can play this demanding game, and most importantly, we’ve erased the trap demons and proved that with depth and buying into Peter DeBoer’s system, we can compete at a high level.
No Devils fan should look back at the 2011-12 season and say it was a waste. We weren’t even supposed to be in the cup final according to every single analyst and the big guns in the East that stood in our way of some more hardware. However, we battled through challenges, won four straight over the Flyers, sent the New York Rangers home, and was 60 minutes away from seeing Martin Brodeur lift his 4th Stanley Cup. Will that be the case for the 2012-13 season? Time will tell. Keep reading the Devils book. It’s going to be great ride for many more seasons.