Tag Archives: Zach Parise

The Best of the Best Face-Off Tonight

30 May

If you would have asked most hockey fans in September or even in February, which teams would have been in this year’s Stanley Cup Finals, I doubt you would have received today’s answer. Tonight, the puck will drop between the #8 seeded Los Angeles Kings and the #6 seeded New Jersey Devils. Both of these teams have without a question shown that they deserve to be here. The question is, what happens now?

The 2012 Stanley Cup Finals feature 2 visibly different teams but if you take a closer look, they might just be a little similar.

Goalies. One young and one “old.” These goalies are not as opposite as they seem. They’re both 2 of the best in the NHL this year and their team’s success reflect their greatness. The Kings have Jonathan Quick, a pretty young goalie who has elevated his team’s play this postseason and is only averaging just 1.54 goals allowed. While the Devils have the legend himself, Martin Brodeur.   Brodeur is truly the best of the best. If you didn’t believe it when the Rangers/Devils series began, I’m sure you believe it now.

Push through the playoffs. When you think about it, both teams have really proved all of the NHL wrong this year. While the Kings are the bigger story having easily plowed their way through the playoffs by beating the top-seeded teams early and quickly, the Devils are pretty much in the same boat. Their series’ might have gone a little longer but they showed that they can beat the best as well.

Captains. Dustin Brown. Trade rumors about Brown started in the middle of the season but he has really stepped up his game and proven to be extremely important to the Kings. It really doesn’t look like anyone’s getting traded now. On the other side you have Zach Parise. He is also about to be a free agent and rumors are running rampant. Parise is just another important piece in this Devils team and has shown that each night of the playoffs. While both Brown and Parise want to keep the rumors out of the finals, they also need to play well and be motivators to their teams. Another interesting thing about Browne and Parise, whichever captain wins will be just the second American-born captain to win the Stanley Cup.

Another important factor…

The Fans. Los Angeles is the city that has always rallied around its sports teams but this time its hockey. Will the LA fans show up and root for their team? Now that the Lakers are out of the playoffs, the Kings are really the next best thing for Los Angeles. And then you have New Jersey. The Devils are really the only professional sports team that New Jersey has left. The fans have been vocal throughout the series with the Rangers and you can bet that they will show all of the state’s support in the finals.

Truthfully, I have zero idea who is going to win but I’m a Jersey girl so I’m going with the Devils. With Marty Brodeur on their side, can they really go wrong?

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10 Really Interesting 2012 Stanley Cup Facts

An Epic Battle for the Hudson River Begins

14 May

Tonight starts the beginning of what could be the best series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Call me partial, but being that I’m from New Jersey and root for most New York/New Jersey teams, this is an epic series. Even casual hockey fans in the tri-state area are getting excited about this one.

First we have the New York Rangers, they have been the Eastern Conference’s best team all season but have almost let 2 series slip away. Its a tough feat to reach the Stanley Cup Finals after playing in a few 7 game series but they can definitely do it. The New York Rangers have all the right pieces but just need them to click at the same time.

Then on the other side of the Hudson River, in the state that only has one real major professional team to call their own, the New Jersey Devils are threatening at just the right time. After pulling upset after upset, the Devils look too good to stop right now. If you ask me, the people of New Jersey need this win for state pride.

One of the biggest stories in this series are the goalies. The Devils are anchored by their legend, Martin Brodeur. While Brodeur has been the star for the Devils for nearly 20 years, he is also getting old. No criticism here though, he has shown that he is probably one of the best NHL goalies ever. Plus, the Devils don’t rely on him as much as they used to so when he is performing well its a plus for the Devils. On the other side, Henrik Lundqvist (a personal favorite of mine) is proving he is among the NHL’s elite goalies as well. The Rangers definitely rely on his impeccable ability to catch that puck and if the last 2 series are any indication, Lundqvist can come through in the clutch.

Neither team would have this much success if it wasn’t for their other stars as well. The Captain of the Rangers, Ryan Callahan, together with Marian Gaborik, rookie Chris Kreider, and Brad Richards have proved incredibly important in the playoffs. Likewise, the Devils have their Captain, Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, David Clarkson, and another rookie Adam Henrique who have all proven to be keys to the Devils current success. Both teams are pretty even and I will be shocked if this series goes less than 7 games.

But wait, there is more. Aside from the players, there are also the fans. Anyone in New York or New Jersey would probably tell you that hockey fans are pretty much crazy. Take a New York hockey fan and put them in the same room as a New Jersey hockey fan and madness will no doubt ensue. If you are lucky enough to go to one of these playoff games, you should definitely watch your back.

Drama seems to always follow New York and New Jersey whenever they meet. The last time they met during the regular season on March 19th, there were 3 fights in the opening minutes of the game. Even the coaches got in on the excitement and exchanged some harsh words for each other. Two months ago, emotions were running high in just a regular season game and there was craziness.

And so the drama leading up to this series just keeps building. This almost never happens. The last time both teams faced each other in the Eastern Conference Finals was in 1994. That series also went to 7 games but the Rangers knocked off New Jersey in double overtime. Stephane Matteau was the star for the Rangers that year as they went on to win the Stanley Cup. 1994 was an epic season for the New York Rangers and Martin Brouder and his New Jersey Devils have not forgotten.

Here’s the thing about rivalries and battles between teams that are close in proximity, its not like everyone in New Jersey is a Devils fan and that’s probably the part that kills New Jersey the most. In fact there will probably be a large number of blue jerseys at the games in Newark, NJ just because a lot of people in the tri-state area root for New York. If you are a Rangers fan you are loyal to New York and if you are a Devils fan you are loyal to New Jersey. The Rangers and Devils don’t like each other. The fans pretty much hate each other. Sports are about team loyalty and this series will be no different.

The pressure is on for both the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils. And as a native New Jerseyan I cannot wait.

We, the hockey fans of the world are now left to wonder, wait, and watch. Who will be this series’ game changer? What kind of battle will ensue on the ice? Will history repeat itself? and most importantly, which team wins the Battle for the Hudson?