Erectile Dysfunction & the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

So. New Jersey and Carolina. Why does this sound so familiar and why do I have only bad memories of past playoff series’ between these two? Whether you think back to 2002 or 2006, both years still leave a bad taste in my mouth. Given the way the Devils have sized up with the Hurricanes throughout this year’s Regular Season, you can probably understand why I’m having a hard time “getting up” for this year’s playoff match-up.


(USEFUL REMINDER: I am a pessimist.)

To a certain extent, it’s almost unfair. Roll back to February. The Devils had just come off a weekend that saw them roll over the #1 and #2 teams in the league… without Martin Brodeur. I don’t think things could have looked any better for the Devils at that point. The offense resembled the year 2001 and the rest of the team was playing solid, near-flawless hockey. The boys from Newark were the talk of the league. At that point, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if the Devils were still standing come June.

Don't worry, they're legal. FAST FORWARD — Newark, NJ: Present Day. The Devils are slowly recovering from a hellacious two weeks and are stumbling into the playoffs only to match-up with a team that they have had nearly no success against all season long. The team defense — especially the PK — has been abnormally weak as of late, the PP seems to have fallen into the abyss, and the rest of the offense can’t seem to get anything going without the help of some faulty glass-assembly.

At this point, it seems as if this season was just one giant tease that left us all a little frustrated in the end. Despite all the records that have fallen and the plethora of memories that will be taken from this year’s campaign, the outlook, to me, is grim at best. The Devils may be the favorite on paper, but Carolina has New Jersey licked on the ice.

Regardless, I will be supportive. The Devils have shown many a critic (myself included) that their foot belongs in their mouth, and that no meal is finer than crow. I can only hope this flicker is only part of the wildfire that we are about to witness over (hopefully) the next several months.

With that being said, break out the rally towels and put away those razors.

It’s playoff time!!

Comments

  1. Dick Dastardly says:

    I’m rootin’ for the Devils, but I’m not bettin’ on ’em.

    As a preface, let me start off by admitting that I hate Scott Burnside. His column on ESPN.com has been anti-Devil since he started writing it – he’s a Rangers fan and he’s proud of it. And every season he picks the Devils to lose in the first round. This year is no exception.

    However, while I think he has the reasoning wrong in his column, and while I’ll be esctatic to be wrong in this assessment, I don’t see the Devils getting past the ‘Canes unless they dramatically change the offense in the next 2 days.

    The Devils did a lot of their scoring this season in the transition game. The power play at times has been good, but not remarkable. The penalty kill has been good most of the season, but has been horrible in the past couple of weeks. Marty has been shaky in net since setting the wins record, giving up goals we aren’t accustommed to seeing. It seems possible that his focus has wavered since achieving his personal goal.

    When the Devils don’t have a transition game working, they like to setup on the perimeter and shoot from the point, hoping for a seeing-eye goal or a fat rebound. There are three reasons to worry here.

    (1) The ‘canes Devils’-style defensive first strategy makes the transition game difficult during the regular season. they double down on it during the playoffs. Unless there are some real bone-headed “What was he thinking” type plays from the ‘canes, we won’t see any breakaway chances in this series.

    (2) Cam Ward doesn’t give up fat rebounds. He’s a good goalie and, just as Marty gets “up” for games against the Habs, Ward seems to get “up” for games against Marty, his personal hero. Expect to see a stellar series out of Ward.

    (3) The ‘Canes defense collapses around Ward more than I’ve ever seen a defense collapse. If tight situations, it isn’t uncommon for the ‘Canes to have 4 players within a stick of the crease, with one more chasing the puck on the perimeter. This seems like a dumb defense to me, but it gives the Devils fits. Point shots rarely get through the thicket of legs and torsos in front of the net and when they do, Ward is good enough to get a foot or a pad on it. The ‘Canes are very good at clearing any rebounds Ward leaves with the 4 sticks right in front of him. They very rarely leave a Devil open enough to take a rebound chance.

    For these reasons, I think the following are all true – (a) Ward will outplay Marty for the third playoff appearance against each other in a row. (b) the devils will have difficulty scoring on the power play and will not have success from the point. (c) the Devils’ defense’s propencity for giving too much ground too quickly will leave Cole and Stahl too much room to manuveur and will put too much pressure on Marty, both in the PK and in 5-on-5 situations.

    My predicition: ‘Canes in 5. Gawd, I hope I’m wrong…

    postscript: One cannot discount the ‘Canes habit of diving to draw penalties, the officials seeming acceptance and even encouragement of this behavior and the discrepancy in penalty minutes we are likely to see in the matchup as a result. The ‘Canes have been actively perfecting the dive – whether actually contacted by the opponent or not – since 2003. This won’t stop until they are called on it and it doesn’t seem like the officials have any interest calling them on it until the networks make them look foolish for allowing it.

    C’mon Melrose! I know you hate the Devils and I know you hate Newark, but you’ve got to hate these diving nancy-boys more. Start pointing this stuff out and maybe we can get a cleaner game out of the ‘Canes. Who cares about fighting when the ‘Canes are flopping all over the ice like a bunch of soccer players?

  2. It’s going to be a tough matchup, I think the toughest in the east. I think it features 2 of the 3 best goalies. NJ can do it, I think they can do it in 7 but its going to be a tiring and at times, frustrating series…

  3. mrsheeps says:

    Well, I’ll admit it: I was rooting against the Devils on Saturday. The pessimist in me believes a team in a psychological funk should not face a team that has historically had such a huge advantage over them, especially in the playoffs. The irony of it all is this season has shown the Devils get plenty of bad bounces, especially in regards to officiating calls mid-season, and then they get two lucky bounces and it ends up in a win that means they face the team they do worst against. Two weeks from now, are we going to be looking at them as lucky bounces?

    The flip-side is that if the Devils do manage to win the first round, it will be absolutely HUGE for their confidence. What could be a bigger confidence builder than beating the team that has proven deadly for you in the past? Sigh… time will tell. I’ll be rooting for them like hell, but if they do happen to lose the first round, count me as one of the thousands of fans that believe they dug their own graves.

  4. Dago Red says:

    I knew in Feb., when the team was pulling off improbable win after improbable win at the last possible moments, that it couldn’t last for long and we’d have to enjoy it while it lasted. No team, even the great Oiler and Islander dynasties were able to do that consistently.

    I suspect the Devs’ ace-in-the-hole will be veterans who’ve been mediocre this season (e.g., Rolston, Madden, and especially Holik). Shanahan has also been spotty although his penalty shot goal a few games ago made up for any inconsistencies in his game, at least to me. Besides being veterans who are used to cranking up their game every April, Holik and Shanahan can further their careers with good playoff performances. If neither shows up to play and the Devs are ousted, I can’t see any team (let alone NJ) looking to sign them for the 09-10 season.

  5. i agree with dick’s point that the devils take advantage of the transition game. clemmers almost never gobbled up the biscuit. he also most of the time made tape to tape passes to keep the devils moving. marty is constantly turning the puck over along the boards, and with his rebound control he slows the game down.
    i too am nervous of this match-up. i am praying to every hockey god there is for some good calls and bounces because this team needs them if they want to get past carolina.

    P.S. What the hell happened to the penalty kill?!?!?! that might end up being the deal breaker.