History is a cruel judge. Its only demand is the facts, and those don’t necessarily favor the heavily favored Devils in this best-of-seven playoff matchup.
While it’s true that New Jersey has won the Atlantic Division three of the past four years, they have nothing to show for it. Two years ago, the Rangers showed the Devils to the exits in five games. Last year, the third-seeded Devils were 80 seconds away from advancing to the second round before falling to No. 6 Carolina in Game 7.
If the regular season is any indication, the Flyers won’t need to go to a Game 7 to hand the Devils their third straight first-round exit. The Flyers won the regular-season series, 5-1.
“We’re a team that got better as the year went on,” said N.J. coach Jacques Lemaire before Game 1.
“[Regular-season record] is already forgotten. That’s why everyone says the playoffs are a new season.”
That the playoffs are a new season is an inarguable point. It’s equally inarguable that the Devils were far more impressive than the Flyers this season.
The Devils finished the regular season with 103 points, tied with Vancouver for fifth-most, while the Flyers needed Olli Jokinen to miss in a shootout in the season finale to lock down a playoff berth.
“It’s a new team every year … We’re not dwelling on the past,” Devils center Travis Zajac said “We’re excited about the opportunity we have with the guys in this dressing room.”