'Devils In The Details'
By Sean Hartnett
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Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final wasn't a classic end-to-end track meet, but there were moments where both goalies had to pull off some tremendously difficult saves under extreme duress.
Colorful play-by-play voice Mike 'Doc' Emrick simply stated during the NBC broadcast,"The goaltenders have been sparkling."
The Devils may have lacked offensive sharpness, but Jonathan Quick kept his composure. As the Kings' powerplay expired, Dainius Zubrus pounced on a turnover and tested Quick's reactions. At a crucial stage, late in the third period, the Devils chipped away at his crease... Quick shut the door. Whenever the Kings needed a big save, Quick was up to the task.
As Game 1 ventured into the latter stages of the third period and into overtime, a battle unfolded on opposite ends of the ice between the talented apprentice Quick and the old master Martin Brodeur. Mike Richards set up Drew Doughty for a one-timer and Brodeur responded by stacking his pads and making a sprawling save.
Alexei Ponikarovsky recalled the stunning save following following the Devils' Game 1 defeat. "I was backchecking, so I was right in front of our net. I wasn't sure what was going on behind me, but they passed it right back to Doughty but Marty came up with a big save for us and kept us in the game," he remembered.
"He save a big save there and gave us a chance to win. It's definitely going to be a good series," Bryce Salvador mentioned post-game.
As overtime progressed, it became a matter of which team would blink first. It turned out to be the Devils who suffered a defensive breakdown. Zubrus left Anze Kopitar unmarked and allowed Kings' sniper to breakaway alone on Brodeur and the Slovakian ace buried the overtime winner.
The Devils may have trailed in shots 25-17, but they had enough clear chances required to gain an advantage but their accuracy betrayed them in Game 1. Don't expect this trend to continue throughout the course of the finals as New Jersey will eventually find their 'A-Game.' Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise will definitely have their say as this series progresses.
"We couldn't get good wood in the puck. We couldn't put them in," Parise said post-game.
Parise, Kovlachuk and co. will show up sooner rather than later and Quick's biggest tests are still to come. This finals will come down to the men between the pipes, and the pressure will be on Quick to keep his cool in his first Stanley Cup Final.
The pressure isn't on Brodeur. He's proven his mettle in three successful finals appearances. He may be 40, but there wasn't an evidence of Brodeur's age on Wednesday night. One day I'm going to have to ask Marty to hand over his driver's license to prove he isn't 14 years older than the 26-year-old Quick.
To put things in perspective, Quick was 16 when Martin Brodeur lifted his third Stanley Cup in 2003. Quick was just a high school sophomore at Avon Old Farms prep in Connecticut.
This is Quick's opportunity to separate himself from Henrik Lundqvist and Pekka Rinne by defeating the legendary Brodeur and en route toward lifting the Stanley Cup. Thus, accepting the torch that Brodeur will eventually pass down to the NHL's next dominant playoff goaltender.
Salvador spoke about the importance of playing a more complete game from start-to-finish. The Devils made a number of turnovers and lost territorial battles throughout Game 1.
"We just want to make sure that come Game 2, that we play the way we want to play for a longer duration of the game. We weren't able to control the momentum for the duration of the game," Salvador explained.
Once the Devils will get their game back together and we'll find out just how capable Quick is when the pressure is turned on the highest.
Which net-minder will lead their team to glory? The youthful Quick or the old master Brodeur? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.
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