The Curse Has Been Lifted

A new era has begun for the Devils.  For the first time in five years since moving to Newark, the Devils have advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

This feat has been five years in the making.  Each step presented new challenges and great risks.  From seeing a first round exit for three years straight, to seeing one of the worst seasons in the history of the franchise that left them out of a playoff run, the Devils have struggled to get past that cursed first round.

Paulo Coelho once said in his book The Alchemist, “We must fall 7 times and get back up 8 times in order to succeed.”  If the saying rings true here, the Devils have already fallen seven times since their last Stanley Cup win.  2012 marks their eighth time rising up from their past failures.  This would be the year that they succeed.

Usually the time of redemption follows after the greatest fall, which would have been the 2010-2011 season when they struggled to find a win during the first half of the season, only to race to the finish line hoping that they would squeeze into the final berth in the playoffs.  They did not succeed and for the first time, the Devils felt the ultimate defeat.

Defeat was something they had seen again and again over these past few years.  Who could forget the upset in game seven of the 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals?  The Devils were winning in that final game seven…and then the unthinkable happened.  In the final 80 seconds of the game, the Hurricanes came back and won the game.  It was the swiftest defeat anyone had ever seen.  That was the game that gave many of us nightmares…even to this day.

It was one defeat after another that left many Devils fans afraid to hope that their team would rise from the ashes.  The day of reckoning finally arrived.  In game seven in double overtime, the Devils broke the tie thanks to rookie Adam Henrique’s game winning goal.  That is when everything changed.  History be gone…the new era has finally arrived for the Devils.  The first round curse had finally been lifted.

Fans can not only hope, but they can believe in their team again.  After their must win in game six, fans all over Newark cheered and partied in the streets after the overtime win.  You would think that the Devils had already won the Cup the way that they carried on.  Perhaps it was just a foreshadowing of what will come.

As this writer headed to the train station, I couldn’t help but think…just imagine if they won the Stanley Cup this year and how amazing that would be for the fans, the Devils and the City of Newark.

They would be winning it for that fan in the Devils jersey that was already dancing in the middle of the streets…and we were only in the first round, not out of the clear yet.  They would be doing it for that fan, Lauren Rubino, who was criticized by Panthers President & COO Michael Yormark on Twitter saying no one cared what she thought because she only had 70 followers.

[The Devils created a new kind of karma in their reaction to this mean jest.  They gave her tickets to sit in the suite above Yormark at the next game.  The hockey community rallied to give her over 1,000 more followers than Yormark himself.  Since then, Yormark has done damage control by inviting Rubino to game seven in Florida to make up for the nasty tweet that got so much attention in the hockey headlines.  In the end, karma worked in the Devils' favor.]

They would be doing it for this writer that announced back in July that this was my final season covering NHL hockey as a writer.  I always said that I would retire after the Devils won the Cup.  Perhaps in knowing that after this season I’m retiring that the Devils already know they’re winning the Cup this year.

When you look at David Clarkson, Martin Brodeur and Ilya Kovalchuk, they all look as if they are in on a very big secret.  They all act like they know they are winning the Cup this year.  In the previous years, it was always met with uncertainty and struggle.  This year, everyone’s attitude is entirely different.  Every single player on the Devils’ squad acts like they already know they are winning the Stanley Cup this year.

You can’t help but be infected by that same confidence that they display.  It’s not even a matter of hope or belief like in previous years.  It’s just an all knowing…this is what is going to happen.  Some may call it intuition, or just a simple fact…this year belongs to the Devils.

After dealing with Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s onslaught of verbal abuse, half-truths and lies over the past month, the Devils always came forward with the facts, as well as documents proving their case.  Wouldn’t it be karmic justice weighing in on the Devils if perchance they were to win the Stanley Cup this year?  They would be able to laugh in Booker’s face, because a Stanley Cup win benefits the City of Newark.  It can bring a city together much more effectively than a mayor holding a press conference in front of the Devils’ Gates spewing his lies to anyone that would listen.

You see, the way the universe works…when someone does something bad to someone else (unjustly) karma works in the victim’s favor.  The victim gets to laugh last…not just once, but ten times.

It may seem a bit strange to read a “spiritual” side of hockey, but over these past few years, my professors of hockey (the New Jersey Devils) have shown me this side of hockey.  It’s very rarely discussed, but believed in as if it were a religion of its own.  Players whisper about it, so as to not be overheard by the hockey gods.  They believe in superstitions, positive thinking, and just about everything you could get out of any New Age text.

They believe in it because those things have proven to be real every single time.  They have found success in hockey by practicing and incorporating those beliefs into how they do their job.

As they face the Flyers in the second round, this will more than likely be a different kind of series than the first round.  For the first round, the goons were scratched through all seven games.  The Devils and Panthers played a well-fought (without dropping the gloves) game of hockey.  It was just about hockey, and that was it.  The better team won…and that was a hard fought win between the two clubs.

In the second round, they face a team with a lot of skill.  But this is the Broad Street Bullies, so don’t be surprised if it’s the bullies vs. the goons in this round.  This rivalry is where more passion abounds, unlike the Florida series.

This series will be tough with not as many goals as the Flyers/Penguins series saw.

Since the Flyers have had plenty of time to rest, they will enter the series at a disadvantage.  The Devils are still fresh from their first round, which means they are ready to play the next game on Sunday after a day of rest.  The Flyers have had more time to rest, which usually works against a club, especially their goaltender.

According to Jaromir Jagr’s blog, all throughout the season the Flyers have had a hard time winning during an afternoon game.  He saw what he hoped was a change in the post-season, but that could be short lived.  The Devils were successful in 53% of their wins during an early game, while the Flyers have only had a 32% success rate during the regular season.

Going into Sunday’s afternoon match, the cards appear to be in the Devils’ favor.

Game time on Sunday is at 3PM in Philadelphia.  NBC will be taking over television coverage for the next three rounds.

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