Today, although it is barely 1am as I’m writing this, is a great day for me (however, there is also a little bit of a buzzkill). Well, to start – it’s my birthday which is something to be happy about! But, not only is it my birthday; I share it with an ex-Devil that might make you cringe at the sound of his name.
I know what you’re thinking, trust me! But don’t close out of this window just yet.
This was a day last year that I spent half celebrating and half moping around because the free agent frenzy was still fresh in my mind. No, Devils fans haven’t had the chance to boo him yet, but I think as a whole we’re less angry than we were at this time last year. Speaking for myself, at least. So, rather than complain and groan yet again, I decided to honour myself and one of my old favourite players. And what better way to do that than with my favourite moments in franchise history?
Over the course of the next 10 days, I’ll be posting my top 10 highlights in the history of the New Jersey Devils – from 1982 all the way until just last season. Each one has a special place in my heart – and I must say, it was very hard to decide which moments would make the cut. To kick it all off, here it is – #10.
#10 – A Pivotal Moment from an Unlikely Source
I’m pretty young myself; I’ve only been a hockey fan for a few seasons now, so I live in the newer generation of the NHL. My favourite player is NHL sophomore Adam Larsson, so what better way to start off my celebrations than with a goal from him?
This goal was unlike anything else. It came on May 1st, 2012 in what was starting to look like a grim decline for the Devils. It seemed they were holding onto the playoffs by the skin of their teeth. They forced the first round, a 7 game stint against the Panthers, all the way to double overtime and it was with a stroke of good luck that the Devils came out on top. Getting off on the wrong foot, the Devils lost Game 1 against the Flyers in another overtime thriller, and were trailing 1-0 headed into the third period of Game 2. That is, until rookie Adam Larsson hit the ice.
After being scratched the entire first round, the 19-year-old Swedish defensemen stated several times that he was anxious to get back on the ice for his first taste of playoff action. After a sloppy Game 1 on the Devils part, he was inserted into the lineup and this proved to be a very successful addition to the team.
Many fans sat in front of their TVs, waiting for Kovalchuk or Parise to grab the puck and slip it by Ilya Bryzgalov. They were definitely in for a shock if that’s what they expected. Perhaps the most unlikely player to score, Larsson sniped one barely past Bryzgalov on his glove side, effectively tying it up 1-1. This was Larsson’s first NHL playoff goal, and only his 3rd in any NHL setting – something that proved exciting enough to get a goal-scorer’s celebration out of him.
Not only was the goal essential in that game, but it could be cited as the turnaround moment in the series. Larsson ignited a fire in the Devils’ lineup, with 3 goals following shortly after his own. What would ultimately become a 4-1 win shifted momentum out of the hands of the Flyers, and sent it back to the Prudential Center for Game 3. The proceeding games were pretty much a breeze for the Devils, who wrapped it up in a 5-game series.
This vital series win that propelled the Devils to the Eastern Conference Finals can be traced all the way back to a 4-on-4 goal scored by a tentative rookie in his first playoff game. So, a big thank you to Adam Larsson!
Stay tuned – on Monday, I’ll be posting #9 in my countdown, featuring a certain #9.