For some people, tonight’s Devils/Panthers game is just the first in the least sexy of the Eastern Conference playoff series, but those people don’t know what they’re talking about. There are so many subplots in this match-up! Just off the tops of our heads, this series is all about:
— Pete DeBoer’s sassy, relatively exciting, mildly successful new team vs. the remnants of Pete DeBoer’s listless, boring, massively unsuccessful old team.
— Living legend Marty Brodeur vs. legend-in-his-own-mind Scott Clemmensen.
— Zach Parise vs. the immense pressures of trying to have a great playoffs in a contract year.
— Ilya Kovalchuk vs. his legacy as a playoff flop.
— Adam Larsson, HBTN vs. the pressbox.
— Adam Henrique vs. Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins… wait a sec. Those guys didn’t get their teams into the playoffs. That must be why they’re better.
— John Madden’s ego vs. hold on — is that Pavel Bure? (True story: we were watching a Panthers game a couple of weeks ago in which Madden scored a goal on a passing play in front of the opponent’s net. Pookie remarked immediately after the goal, while watching the replay, “Oh my god, I was just about to say, ‘pass it to Pavel Bure!’ Isn’t that the most sad and pathetic thing ever? Pavel Bure! Remember that guy? Wait — is that actually John Madden?? Okay, that’s more sad and pathetic.”)
— The Devils proclivity for early-round playoff failure vs. hey, maybe they’ll be better if they’re not playing the Rangers or the Hurricanes?