The scenario facing the Devils is brutally simple — win Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final and keep their season alive.
The Devils trail the Kings in the best-of-7 series three games to none. Should the Devils lose Game 4 tonight at Staples Center, they will author an unwelcome piece of franchise history — its first sweep in a Stanley Cup playoff series.
“Try to get this thing taken back to New Jersey [for Game 5],” Devils captain Zach Parise said during his media availability yesterday. “That’s all we can do right now. That’s all we can think about.”
Contemplating the alternative can only lead to dejection.
The only team in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup after falling behind 0-3 in a series was the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs. Only three teams have ever won a playoff series after falling behind 0-3 in a series: the aforementioned Leafs, the 1975 New York Islanders in the quarterfinals and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
“We haven’t talked about the statistics of the situation we’re in. We feel we don’t belong in the hole we’re in right now based on the way we’ve played, but we are,” Devils head coach Pete DeBoer said when he met with reporters yesterday. “[We’ve] got to stick with it and win one game. That’s where it starts.”
The Eastern Conference champions have not been able to consistently gain the offensive zone, to say nothing about implementing their forecheck in the same manner that they did against Florida, Philadelphia and the Rangers.
“I grew up in Ontario. Heard a lot of stories about the Leafs,” DeBoer said through laughs when asked about the 1942 Leafs. “I think ‘42 is a little far back for anything I remember.”
Devils head coach Pete DeBoer absolved goalie Martin Brodeur of blame even though he has allowed eight goals on 78 shots in the series.
Brodeur has a .897 save percentage and 2.66 goals against average through the three games. By comparison, Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has a .972 save percentage and 0.66 goals against average while limiting the Devils to two goals on 72 shots.
“Marty Brodeur bouncing back is the least of my concerns,” DeBoer said. “[Our] desperation level is high. You’re in the Stanley Cup final. I don't think there’s a way of heightening the desperation level. We’re down 3-0. We just have to stick with it.”
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.