For the Devils fan that is faint of heart, this Stanley Cup Championship must be beginning to make you dizzy (if it hasn’t already.) The Devils lost the third of three games against the Los Angeles Kings Monday night, 4-0. The shutout loss draws the walls in closer on the series, and now the Devils must dig deep and unearth the courage to be alongside four other teams to come back from a 0-3 deficit.
Within this Game 3 loss are some bleak numbers. The Devils were 0 for 6 on power plays, including one 4-minute long penalty to Joe Carter. Their counterparts, the Kings, struck on both 3rd period power play chances they were given.
The Kings’ postseason, penalty-kill percentage is what most anticipated from the Devils this postseason. After Monday night’s game, the Kings’ PK% was at 92.8.
Amidst these inept, power play numbers on the Devils’ behalf is a fact; only four teams have come back to win a series after trailing by 3 games. The fact that only four teams have come back to win any round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after trailing 0-3 has a side note. Only a single team has won the Stanley Cup after trailing by three games.
If the Devils want to win this Stanley Cup, they are going to have to mimic an historical feat conducted 70 years ago by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 1942 Stanley Cup Championship, arguably endured as the greatest comeback in NHL history, saw Toronto win four straight after dropping the first three to the Detroit Red Wings.
The Devils are going to have to be serious about making this comeback, and the first thing they need to do is find a way to get the puck passed Kings’ goalie, Jonathan Quick. Quick’s 21-save, shutout victory Monday night upped his save percentage to an even 95%. He also dropped his goals-against average to 1.36. Aside Quick, the Devils are going to need to freeze Anze Kopitar’s playoff-leading goals tally where they are. Kopitar scored his league-leading 8th goal at 15:07 into the second period Monday night.
Containing Drew Doughty’s point-scoring would likely work in the Devils favor if they are to commence in NHL magic. Doughty was one of two Kings’ power play scorers in the third period, Monday night. His goal was his second in as many games, but including his assist on Kopitar’s Game 1 overtime winner, it was his third point scored in as many games.
A true believer doesn’t let go of the possibilities that are available for the Devils. It is a three game deficit they face, and urgency has now been accompanied by severe anxiety. Both urgency and anxiety are factors that are hard to calculate, and they can only be imagined by those who know how debilitating each can be. However, pulling together as a team and approaching the next game as a start of a new series could help nullify psychological stigmas drifting into any of the Devils’ heads.
Devils’ faith in themselves as well as faith that their fans haven’t suddenly turned their backs can hopefully pick and pull at the momentum the Kings have. It may take a bit of subconscious, primal instinct to win, but whatever can or may work can’t arrive any later than now. The New Jersey Devils are faced with a sweep in Los Angeles Wednesday night. A Game 4 win can boost confidence as well as bring the series back home for Game 5 where the cheer of their fans will be much more encouraging than the likes of The Staples Center in Los Angeles. Game 4 begins live from L.A. at 8PM, ET.
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