|Ilya Kovalchuk straight trolls orangeheads.|
And here we are, a week and a half after I feared my gracelessness would spell misfortune for my hockey team in the Eastern semi-finals against the mighty Flyers. The Devils are headed to the conference finals. The big bad Flyers, with their rough-and-tumble free-wheelin' barn-stormin' brand of hockey that reduced a respected organization in Pittsburgh to a piñata, are staying home, where they were eliminated in five games. Claude Giroux, allegedly the "best player in the world," registered less even-strength points in this series than our recently turned 40-year-old netminder and watched his team's season end from the press box having been suspended for a petulant headshot on Dainius Zubrus in Game 4.
That illegal hit was telling. It demonstrated how deep under the Flyers' skin we'd gotten by just playing the type of hockey they nearly patented in the quarterfinals; by getting pucks low, winning board battles, establishing forecheck, and peppering their shaky goalie with shots, all while remaining disciplined by avoiding any after-the-whistle goonery that marked the Pittsburgh series, we frustrated the likes of Giroux and his teammates into making bad decisions. Read Scott Hockey Jesus Hartnell, he of 37 regular season goals fame, talk about how the Devils (who?) managed to hold him to just one goal all series:
"I don't think we thought we were going to win four straight," Hartnell said today, "but definitely, they've played a lot stronger and a lot harder than me personally would have thought they'd come with. They've been on a high the last few weeks obviously, beating Florida in Game 7."That "high" you're describing Scotty? It's called belief. And we just outbelieved you in five.
Photo New Jersey Devils
H/t Puck Daddy
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