What can I say? I was wrong. I am man enough to admit that (when it coincidentally happens to benefit me greatly). I can bear that cross. All that babbling on and on about how a three game losing streak -in which the Devils played fairly inspired hockey- could be the beginning signs of this team spiraling out of playoff contention? Ha! Nonsense. Must have had too much to drink that night. If there are two things that can get this team to play it's best they are adversity and the New York Rangers, and play their best is exactly what this Devils team did.
This may have been their most impressive performance of the season and that's quite the statement considering how successful they have been against some of the top teams in the league. The Devils had a 5 goal first period against Ottawa last month, and the second period last night was still their best twenty minute stretch of the entire year. The fact that this game was only 3-2 in the waning minutes of the third period was an injustice of epic proportions, because the New Jersey Devils ran their cross river rivals off the ice for a vast majority of the night. The only thing that saved this game from being an absolute bloodbath was a 90 second stretch where the Rangers netted their only two goals, and the outstanding play of Henrik Lundqvist. Even the final score of 5-2, which included an empty net goal, doesn't seem like all that good of a reflection how this lopsided this game was, and that's a testament to a Devils team whose urgency matched the importance of the situation.
Outside of a vomit inducing 5 minute powerplay to start the third period, this game couldn't have possibly gone any better. A come from behind win? Lee Stempniak continuing to twist the knife he's been shoving in the Rangers back all season by scoring the game winner? Sergey Kalinin, of all people, sealing the win with an insurance goal and putting the final touches on a Gordie Howe Hat Trick in the process? Hell, even Adam Larsson got on the board, even if it took an empty net to do so. The best part about this win? Other than the following unbelievable stop, the Devils didn't need the their All-World goaltender to stand on his head to get it..
This may have just been one victory, but it was a victory that seemed to have an exclamation point attached to the end of it. A statement game if ever there was one. An opportunity for the Devils to show their fans that they weren't all that discouraged by the bounces that haven't gone their way recently. It was a nice little head nod to people like me who implied that the last few games might have been their undoing. Kyle Palmieri slamming home the rebound of his own shot that had already gone in was the epitome of what this game was, a "fuck you" to every single one of their doubters.
Oh, and if there is one thing I would ask from this team it's that Joe Blandisi do less of this...
And more of this...
A sick night indeed, Joe.