June 7, 2012

Perhaps it was employing a little bit of 1942’s game strategy to mix things up in the Devils’ lineup that afforded the Devils their must need win. Maybe it was the fight for survival from complete elimination that forced the Devils to change what they were doing in a mad effort to find something that would work and secure a win. Or it was deciding to change their luck by shaving their beards that helped to convince a few Devils players that they could change the series.

Whatever it was, the Devils have pushed the series to a Game Five with the belief that they can still do this…one game at a time.

The key to this win, as compared to Monday’s loss, is that the Devils turned the game around in their favor. Before, the Kings were outplaying them all across the board. From goals, to faceoff wins, to hits, to breakaways…the Kings dominated every single aspect of the game. The Devils held no sort of lead whatsoever in the first three games.

In Game Four, though, the Devils had more hits (43-33), more faceoff wins (34-29), less giveaways (10-16), and more blocked shots (13-11) than the Kings. On Monday, the Kings had the better overall stats. This is the first time in the series that the Devils worked harder, better and more effectively than the Kings.

This is also the third time that the Kings have lost in Game Four this post-season, after leading the series 3-0. They lost Game Four in the Quarterfinals against Vancouver and in the Western Conference Finals against Phoenix.

For the first time in this series, the Devils held a lead, even though it was a short one. In the third period, Patrik Elias ended his scoring drought at 7:56. “It marked the first Devils lead of the series and snapped a 138:39 goal drought that dated to the 2:59 mark of the third period in Game 2.” [NHL]

At 8:52, David Clarkson was called for a questionable boarding penalty. Four seconds later, Drew Doughty’s slapshot ended that 1:00 lead to tie the game.

But Adam Henrique has become the big savior for the Devils on more than one occasion this post-season. He netted his third game-winning goal in the playoffs to break the tie at 15:29. Ilya Kovalchuk sealed the Devils’ win with an empty-netter at 19:40.

Henrique has scored twice in overtime to end the seasons for both the Florida Panthers and the New York Rangers in the series-clincher games. He is the first rookie to tally three game-winners in one playoff year since 1999 when Chris Drury (4) and Milan Hejduk (3) from the Colorado Avalanche tallied their game-winners.

“Henrique already has scored two overtime goals in the 2012 playoffs, tying the NHL rookie record set by Montreal’s Jacques Lemaire in 1968 and equaled by Montreal’s Claude Lemieux in 1986.” [NHL]

Both Lemaire and Lemieux have deep ties within the Devils’ organization, so it’s incredible to see how they are now all linked to each other. History can and does repeat itself…just like fans are hoping that the Toronto Maple Leafs 1942 Stanley Cup run will be repeated once again.

In 1942, the Toronto Maple Leafs were trailing the series 0-3. The coach decided to sit out their lead goal scorer and give two younger players a shot. It was a severe risk that the Leafs were taking, but the team they had on the ice wasn’t working for them.

After this change-up, Toronto went on to win four straight, winning the Stanley Cup.

This come from behind victory has only succeeded once since the entire best-of-seven game format was adopted. Devils fans are hoping that 70 years later, history will repeat itself once again. With the mentality of the team, this dream could be made possible. It takes one game at a time.

The Devils decided to take a similar course of action like that of the 1942 team. Both Peter Harrold and Jacob Josefson were scratched in favor of Petr Sykora and Henrik Tallinder. This game marked Tallinder’s first appearance. He had been out of the lineup since January 17th due to a blood clot.

Tallinder’s return allowed for some relief for Devils’ defenseman, Anton Volchenkov.

Even though there were slight changes similar to that of 1942, coach Peter DeBoer doesn’t think they did anything too differently.

“Not a whole lot different,” he said. “We found a way to get the first goal. We found a way to keep momentum. We didn’t play any harder. I mean, I think the chances were relatively even again tonight, like they have been most of the games. Our poorest effort was in Game 1. I think the last three games could have gone our way as easily as they’ve gone L.A.’s way. We finally got rewarded tonight.”

The secret to the Devils success? One simple word: BELIEVE.

“Well, they believe,” DeBoer said. “They’re in the fight. They’ve got a lot of pride.”

“We’re pretty happy to live another day,” Martin Brodeur said after the win. “There’s no doubt about that. We just wanted to play well, give everything we had, and see where that’s going to bring us. Again, we were able to win. We’re pretty happy about it. But we know that the road ahead is the most difficult that we could face. So we’re taking a day at a time. But it was fun to win. It’s been three games we played well and no result. Regardless of what happened next game, at least we won one game. We’re definitely happy about the way everything unfolded for us today.”

Does this make him believe more?

“More than yesterday,” he said. “You know, I think we wanted to make them jump on a plane and come to New Jersey. We had to go anyway. Might as well get a game over there (smiling). But I think it’s a tough situation, you know, for us to be in. We pulled it off, one game. We’ll take it one game at a time. But I’m sure they’re not happy to make that trip. We’ll try to make it miserable for them again. Played them well, played them hard. We’ll see where the result is going to end up. We definitely are looking forward to the next game and some of the momentum. Finally we were able to score goals on Quick, not many, but enough to win. Hopefully that’s going to be a good thing for the boys coming home, that we’re a little better offensively on home ice.”

Game Five is on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. in Newark, New Jersey.

About The Author

Michelle Kenneth has been with Inside Hockey since 2007 as the beat reporter for the New Jersey Devils. She is also part of the IH team covering the New York Rangers. Since 2007, she's covered the Stanley Cup Finals, NHL All-Stars, NHL Awards, Winter Classic, Stadium Series and the NHL in Europe. You can follow Michelle on Twitter @MichelleKenneth and on her blog: michellekennethhockey.wordpress.com.

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