Here at the outset of the latest installment of “The Devils, Playoffs Version”, we’re beginning to understand why Red Wings bloggers are the way they are. When your team not only makes the playoffs every year (and since we became Devils fans at the start of the ’96-’97 season, we’ve never seen them miss), but also doesn’t even come close to not making it, there’s just not that much to say as a blogger. So you can be like the Wings writers, crowing about how great you are, how stupid everyone else is, and crafting outlandish conspiracy theories to explain away the times when your team doesn’t come through, or you can be like us and struggle to think of new ways to say, “Yeah, my team’s rolling along, as usual.” Consistent regular-season winning is a wonderful, comforting thing; as sure as there will be the seasons and the tides, so too will there be 40+ wins for our team. And just as we are grateful for the seasons and the tides, we’re also grateful for our annual 40+ wins. Really, we are. But honestly, who wants to write about the tides every day?
Anyway, we wanted to get that little bit of positivity (and apology for being lousy bloggers) out before moving on to the topic at hand: the playoffs.
Just as the Devils are consistently winners in the regular season, they have lately been consistently losers in the playoffs. They’ve been atrocious in each of the last three seasons, so we think we’re justified in being a bit reserved about the successes of this past regular season. Also, we think we’re justified in being extremely reserved in our enthusiasm for the Devils’ playoff chances this time around. Thrice bitten, many many times shy, as the old saying goes.
So, realistically, how do we think this Devils/Flyers series is going to shake out? Well, there is a variety of subplots that merit mention. There’s Jacques Lemaire, and the question of whether he’ll hoist the team on its own petard like he did last time he was coaching the Devils in the playoffs. There’s the Zach/Zubrus Showdown At The Triple-Z Ranch buzzsaw that we’d love to be the key to the series. There’s Kovalchuk trying to put an exclamation point on his contract year. There’s Paulie trying to cram an entire contract year into one playoff run. There’s Patrik Elias playing against a Boucher-backstopped Flyers. There’s Langer and his all-around captainy awesomeness (HAHAHAHAHAHA! Just checking to see if you were still reading). But ultimately, none of that matters. It doesn’t matter what the forwards do, doesn’t matter what the D does, doesn’t matter what the special teams or coaches do. No, the only thing that really matters is Marty. Is this going to be the year that competent, gives-his-team-a-chance-to-win-every-night Marty returns to the playoffs? Or is this going to be another year of Marty giving up bad goals at the worst possible times, and losing his focus, and throwing hissy-fits, and whining and pointing fingers and generally looking like he doesn’t belong at this level? Four years ago, against the Hurricanes, we blamed the d-men. Three years ago, against the Senators, we blamed the system. Two years ago, against the Rangers, we blamed the universe. Last year, against the Hurricanes, we blamed the forwards. If it happens again this year, we’re blaming Marty.
Our prediction for this series? Flyers take a 3-1 series lead, but the Devils win in 7. Just the way it should be.