A terrific and unexpected season ended in Los Angeles as the New Jersey Devils were hurt by a non-call and a dumb decision,which allowed the Kings a five minute major and that resulted in a 6-1 series ending loss.
Adam Henrique scored the only Devils goal with the score 4-0 Kings,while Los Angeles would score two empty netters to inflate the win.
Today's Hell Raisers may be entered with a few grapes with my whine,but I think they are deserved.
Most of these will be looking towards the future as we clean up the past.
1) Lets get right to it-the referees put the Kings in the position to win.
They did not win it,cheat or put three pucks into the net.but the non-call on Jarrett Stoll on Stephen Gionta for boarding was the set up for the call that changed the game (HR 2).
If that call is made,Rob Scudari never takes the hit because the next time the Kings touch the puck-it would be blown dead.
2) If the puck was blown dead,Steve Bernier is not looking for revenge for the hit on Gionta and he will not launch such a reckless and dumb hit.
I understand Bernier's reason and his frustration,but it was a very bad hit and a very dumb play-Bernier put the referees in a position to decide the game.
Just a bad decision by Steve Bernier...
3) I also think the referee that "picked" Anton Volchenkov and then led to the fourth goal should be forced to take a class in getting out of the way of the play.
He moved further into the defensive zone,when the proper course of action would have been to skate towards center ice...
4) All of that written-the Kings would have likely won anyway.
The Devils did not seem flat as much as worn out.
If there would a case to prove the case that fewer games trump higher pressure games over the playoff season,this one would be it.
Los Angeles looked fresher,played like it and took the deserved victory...
5) Now,its time to thank an underdog team.
The Devils were not even picked to make the playoffs by many member of the hockey media and yet made the Stanley Cup finals.
When you consider that and add the fact that the Devils smashed the dreams of their two biggest rivals,I consider this a successful season.
Perhaps it was not the ultimate success,but it could not come much closer...
6) The Devils now have to deal with the off season and will need to do quickly.
I look for the Devils to take the hit for the Ilya Kovalchuk signing this year by turning in their first rounder.
This is the best year to do it as the pick will be the next to last pick in the round.
I would be overwhelmed if the Devils did not make that decision...
7) New Jersey has 11 unrestricted free agents and some of these players will be gone.
The two that will swing the franchise's future will be Zach Parise and Martin Brodeur.
Brodeur's decision will be about whether or not to retire and affect the team as far who replaces him in goal.
Marty has said that he will decide by July 1st on his decision,so that the Devils can have time to figure out what they want to do.
I think Marty will be back for one more season.
8) Zach Parise is a different matter.The Devils captain is the top available free agent this season and will likely have many suitors.
Parise has said that he wanted to see if the Devils could bring him a chance at the cup and they have done that.
The big questions are these- does he think that the team can continue this type of contention? Is this about how much money he is paid and if so,can the Devils and their financial issues compete with the teams that will toss bucks his way?
9) Of the rest,decisions will have to be made.Bryce Salvador might have played his way out of New Jersey with his playoffs performance and get a contract that the team is not willing to match.
I would bet that Ryan Carter,Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier will be wanted back,if the price is right.
Alexei Ponikarovsky disappeared a bit in the later series,so I would not be sure on them.
Petr Sykora will be have to be re-signed too and I think Johan Hedberg may retire,so a backup goalie will be a must addition....
10) The teams financial situation has to be mended and quickly before the free agent period starts.
I would hate to see the Devils lose Zach Parise because of these off the ice issues and I hope the Devils can line up the investors to help straighten out this mess.
Gary Bettman thinks that will happen and as much as I question Bettman's hockey credibility,I give full credit to him on the money side.
11) Finally,one more thank you to the team for a terrific season and for being the team that made Rachel care about the game.
I know that Rachel is disappointed,but this will be a first season that she will never forget and my gratitude to the Devils for hooking her as a fan is immense.
Thanks again guys for a great year and I will see you in October.
Excuse me,now it is time for a long overdue shave.....
Photo Credit:AP Photo