I know that all of us Devils fans are likely in a pretty bad mood after a Game 1 re-run yesterday afternoon. Again, the Devils played well enough to score and maybe even win throughout the first two periods, but couldn't hold the Rangers off in the third. The series is only 2-1, but if the Devils get eliminated, is the season a failure?
If somebody came up to you in say, December, and told you that New Jersey would be in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2003, would you believe it? And would you take it, and call the season a success?
Personally, i probably would have. The Devils had a good, but not a great season. They needed 12 shootout victories en route to 102 points for the season, enough for the sixth seed. It can be assumed that the Atlantic Division is the best in hockey right now, and that they would have had more wins in another division, but a sixth seed is still a sixth seed. They looked like they were going to lose to the Florida Panthers, who had one of their best seasons in years, after going down in the series 2-1 and then 3-2. But they came back, won Game 7 in double overtime off the stick of Adam Henrique, who had a surprising season that resulted in a Calder nomination. The Devils then proceeded the steamroll the heavily-favored Flyers in five games. I doubt anyone expected a result like that; I thought the Devils could win the series, but I would not have said in five games. They made it to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in almost a decade, with almost an entirely different team. It could be said that things are looking up for the years to come.
However, there are reasons to believe that if this deep playoff run doesn't result in names like Parise and Kovalchuk on the Cup, all is lost. First of all, they are playing the Rangers. I know, I know, they're a beatable team, but they're also a damn good team. You don't have the best record in the conference through luck. To lose to the Rangers would be just awful though. That franchise and organization as a whole just makes me mad. The arrogance, the disrespect, the self-importance, etc. As ecstatic as I've been to see the Devils make it this far, losing to the Rangers would be a major sour note on what was really a good season. Another reason you could argue that it's all or nothing for the Devils right now is Marty and the rest of the roster. Marty's 40, and though he's been very good throughout this series and the playoffs as a whole, he's still old. There doesn't really seem to be anyone waiting in the wings either, there hasn't been much evidence to make believers in Kinkaid, Wedgewood, or Frazee. The Devils have the second-oldest roster, after the Red Wings. Could this run be the only chance for these Devils?
And, if they do beat the Rangers, and go to the finals, wouldn't you be upset if they lost? who knows when they'd be back?
So, after all of that, what do you guys think? Can the season be marked a success just for getting here, or is it Stanley Cup or bust for our Devils?