3,991 Days Later, New Jersey Devils Have A Series Lead

New Jersey Devils center Dawson Mercer (91) celebrates after scoring a goal against the New York Rangers during the second period in game five of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
New Jersey Devils center Dawson Mercer (91) celebrates after scoring a goal against the New York Rangers during the second period in game five of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports /
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The first Avengers movie was crushing the box office. Donald Driver won the 14th season of Dancing with the Stars. Some band called Gotye was blaring on the radio with the number-one hit “Somebody That I Used To Know.” Oh, people were still listening to the radio. It was May 23rd, 2012. That was the last time the New Jersey Devils won a game that gave them a series lead. Ironically, it came against the New York Rangers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Final. We all know how that one ended.

Now, on Thursday, April 27, 2023, the Devils have a series lead again. The Devils beat the doors off the New York Rangers 4-0 in front of a raucous Prudential Center crowd. The team was flying, Akira Schmid was insane in net, and the defense was out of its mind. Everything went right for the Devils on Thursday night. They even got the bounces going their way.

We’ll have plenty of analysis on the game. It was a wonderful performance by the Devils. Let’s talk real quick about how important this moment is for Devils fans.

Think about how much has happened since the Devils had a series lead. Some pretty fun highs. Jaromir Jagr chose the Devils in free agency. The team’s first outdoor game at Yankee Stadium. The trade is one-for-one. Then, Taylor Hall won the franchise’s first Hart Trophy as the league MVP. Winning two draft lotteries to pick Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. Trading for P.K. Subban (the day felt amazing, don’t lie).

However, the lows of the past close to 4,000 days outweighed the highs by a lot. One playoff series. 476 losses. Zach Parise went home. Ilya Kovalchuk went home. David Clarkson went home. Taylor Hall packed it in. Lou Lamoriello said goodbye. Ray Shero got fired. John Hynes got fired. Peter DeBoer got fired. Martin Brodeur retired. Patrik Elias did, too. Cory Schneider got hurt. Then, he got hurt again. Trades didn’t work out. Free agent signings really didn’t work out. It was a long, terrible road that led Devils fans here.

Now, the team is one win away from not only winning its first playoff round since 2012, but they are about to do it against the New York Rangers. In the time since the Devils beat the Rangers in that faithful series, the team wearing blue and white made it to another Conference Final and a Stanley Cup Final, told their fans they were going to rebuild, did it with quickness, and made it to yet another Eastern Conference Final last season. There’s been plenty of success at MSG over the past 10 years.

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That would make a Devils series win over the Rangers that much sweeter. It’s taken so long to get here. We don’t want to count our chickens before they hatch. Just a week ago, the Rangers had a 2-0 series lead. Just getting here has been so amazing. Now, it’s time to go back to Madison Square Garden to finish the job.