The Devils win four in a row to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in nine years. There aren’t that many bills I look forward to getting, and Round 3 Stanley Cup Playoff tickets set the bar pretty high.
Where do you start being proud of this team, as a fan? Playing hard every shift, consistently sticking to a system? Avoiding retaliatory penalties, even when Rinaldo, Giroux and Simmonds were dirtier than the bathroom in a South Street Philadelphia bar at three in the morning (they’ll have plenty of time to verify my comparison now). Marty not being at all fazed playing the puck, even under pressure? Stephen Gionta hitting about a foot larger than he stands? Kovulchuk’s power play goal, coming from Zubrus winning a monster faceoff in the zone? Even JR gave Kovy props in the post-game.
It starts behind the bench, with DeBoer retaining his composure through every situation. Compare him to Tortorella, who must be nursing a sore throat by the midway point of most games, or Laviolette, who pouts, frowns and gesticulates like he’s a marionette whose strings are wrapped around a drill bit. Up and down the coaching staff, you can see the development of the younger plays, the poise that the playoff newbies have exuded, and how every player focuses on every small detail.
This team is fun to watch. And we get to watch for at least another round of playoffs.