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Devils Playoffs Flashback: 1997 1st Round


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#1 devilsrule33

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 07:19 PM

Devils (1) vs Canadiens (8) - 1997 1st Round

 

 

So the Devils aren't in the playoffs. Doesn't mean we can't talk about Devils playoff hockey (I guess it could mean that depending on everyone's mood). Time to relive some good and maybe some bad. As always...could be a running feature or a one off.

 

The 1997 series vs Montreal would be the Devils first taste of playoff hockey since winning their 1st Stanley Cup in 1995. After a disastrous lockout-shortened season left the Devils as the first Stanley Cup winning team to miss the playoffs since 1970, the Devils responded by finishing first in the Eastern Conference with 104 points. The Devils continued to show all the traits of a Jacques Lemaire hockey team, 1st in GA, 1st in PK, but offensively challenged.

 

Earlier in the season, with the Devils power play a mess, and the Leafs looking like a giant bowl of sh!t, Lou pulled off one of the biggest trades in franchise history acquiring Doug Gilmour, an aging all-star, Dave Ellett, and a pick for Steve Sullivan, Jason Smith and Alyn McCauley. Smith and Sullivan had become Devils regulars and McCauley was expected to have a giant future ahead of himself. But the Devils were getting a true #1 Center -- a point-per-game player at the least in a position they needed the most.

 

The Devils 1st round opponent was one of the worst teams to set foot in the playoffs record wise. The Canadiens squeaked into the playoffs with just 31 wins and 77 points edging out the Hartford Whalers in their final season.. The whole league seemed mediocre for that matter with just 6 of the 16 playoff teams having 90 points. Hard to remember if that was the norm or if shootout wins really inflate how good teams are. Like New Jersey, the Canadiens made a giant trade of their own early in the season, dealing captain Pierre Turgeon, Craig Conroy and Rory Fitzpatrick (vote for Rory!) to the Blues for Shane Corson, Murray Baron and a 5th round pick. This easily had to be one of the worst trades ever and can be added to a number of awful deals that led to the Habs irrelevancy. Turgeon was their captain, French Canadian, was an all-star the previous season with 96 points. And you trade an all-star for Shayne Corson?!

 

Well...the 1996-1997 Habs, unlike New Jersey, had a pretty good offense (ranked 9th) even without Turgeon (68 points in 60 games in St Louis and with Shayne Corson (6 goals in 47 games), but their defense was easily amongst the worst in the league (Murray Barron couldn't help much and eventually traded later that season). So the Canadiens might have had an edge on offense, the defense and goaltending battles were decisive wins for New Jersey. Marty Brodeur had just finished what would arguably be his best season ever (.927 GAA, 1.88 GAA, and 10 shutouts). The Canadiens countered with Jocelyn Thibault, the man who had the worst job in the hockey -- being Patrick Roy's replacement.

 

The Series

Game 1 5-2 New Jersey (Chambers, Guerin, Rolston (2), Brodeur) (Brunet, Corson)

Game 2 4-1 New Jersey (Carpenter, Guerin, MacLean (2)) (Savage)

Game 3 6-4 New Jersey (Elias, Holik, Rolston, Zelepukin (3)) (Koivu, Recchi (2), Thornton)

Game 4 4-3 (3OT) Montreal (Elias, Niedermayer, Odelein) (Recchi (2), Stevenson, Brisebois)

Game 5 4-0 New Jersey (Dean, Holik, MacLean, Odelein)

 

Notables:

  • Devils playoff debuts for Patrik Elias, Petr Sykora, Jay Pandolfo, Denis Pederson, Doug Gilmour, Steve Thomas and Dave Ellett
  • One Devil who would not make his debut was Dave Andreychuk, who missed the entire series after breaking his ankle in the last game of the regular season. He returned for game in round 2. Elias, who played just 17 games in his first NHL season, was his replacement (chosen over Petr Sykora). He scored his 1st playoff goal and added an assist in a game 3 win. When Guerin was injured in game 3, Petr Sykora was inserted into the lineup.
  • Martin Brodeur became the second goalie to ever score a playoff goal (Hextall the first) in the 5-2 Game 1 win
  • Valeri Zelepukin would score a very unlikely game 3 hat trick
  • Mario Tremblay went with Jose Theodore (his playoff debut) after 3 straight losses for the Canadiens and Thibault. Theodore played exceptionally well stopping 56 of 59 in a game 4 OT win and 45 of 49 in regulation in the decider
  • Patrice Brisebois (1 of many random defensemen to score OT playoff winners against the Devils...this one the least painful) scored the game 4 OT winner to extend the series
  • Injuries to Bill Guerin (broken toe) and Valeri Zelepukin (broken thumb) led to Scott Niedermayer playing LW in game 5 in a role to shadow the Habs best forward, Mark Recchi who had 4 goals in the first 4 games.
  • Devils fans tried their own variation of the Detroit octopus or the Florida rat when after a John MacLean goal made it 2-0, a boar's head was thrown onto the ice in game 2
  • This series was pure domination for the Devils outshooting the Canadiens 219-142 in just over 17 periods of hockey
  • Former Devil fan favourite Stephane Richer was held scoreless in 5 games for the Canadiens. The player he was traded for, Lyle Odelein, finished the series with 2 goals and 2 assists.

 

 

Quotables:

"I was freaking out," said Brodeur, whose empty-net goal came with 44.6 seconds to play. "It was unbelievable. When I shot it, it went over everyone and I kind of lost it. I saw John MacLean raise his arms up. I said: `Wow, it's got to go in if he's doing that. "Guys in front of me went to the side and I saw it go in. I'll never forget that moment."
 

 

But for the moment, there was laughter in the Devils' locker room. ''Was that a pig's head?'' MacLean asked after the game. ''Maybe it was Sammy the Bull,'' he added with a laugh in a reference to Sammy Gravano, the mobster who turned informer on John Gotti

 

During the game, Manson was whistled for four minor penalties, and the Devils took advantage by scoring on three of them.

Afterward, an angry Manson said of Walkom, ''It's just a case of I think I know who he bet on to win the Stanley Cup.''

For extra measure, the 11-year veteran called Walkom a ''joke.''

 

''I can't take credit for this one,'' Lemaire said about the decision to play Niedermayer on the attack and have him shadow Recchi, who had 16 shots in the first four games and was limited to just two tonight. ''The idea came from my assistant.'' Lemaire was referring to Robbie Ftorek.

 

Highlights:

 

 

Two of the best NHL play-by-play men got to call Marty Brodeur's goal. Only felt it was right to include both.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyTCTAXL6zM

 

 

 

Feel free to share any thoughts or memories from this series. All quotes came from NY Times recap articles written by Alex Yannis.
 


Edited by devilsrule33, 17 April 2014 - 07:37 PM.

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"The Stanley Cup has fallen from the Stars. The new millennium has its first Stanley Cup Champion, and it's the New Jersey Devils." Mike Miller calling the Devils winning the Stanley Cup.

"It goes to the captain and then there are handoffs during a skate around the ice" Mike Emrick as Scott Stevens is being presented the Stanley Cup.


#2 MadDog2020

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 07:23 PM

I was at game 1. I literally had no voice left after Marty scored lol. The 'ol CAA went nuts when that puck went in. Great moment, one of many great Marty moments I'm proud to say I witnessed in person.


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#3 sundstrom

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 07:30 PM

while i loved that series, the one that followed it...ugh.

 

crease goals and fvcking messier crosschecking gilmour in the face into a concussion with no penalty


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“They’re the ones that makes it happen,” Lemaire said. “It’s not us. It’s not me. It’s not the other guy. It’s not the guy before. It’s not the guy after. It’s them. And they have to take care of business.”
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#4 MadDog2020

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 07:34 PM

while i loved that series, the one that followed it...ugh.

crease goals and fvcking messier crosschecking gilmour in the face into a concussion with no penalty

Unfortunately I was at game 5 of that disaster as well... That was a brutal afternoon to cap off a brutal series.


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#5 '7'

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 07:34 PM

I remember John MacLean broke Nik Sundstroms arm with a slash later in the rags series and received no suspension as an even up for the league ignoring the Messier cross check (which I don't remember that well but seeing it in replays it was pretty brutal and blatant)

 

game 4 of the Habs series annoyed me. fvcking Jose Theodore had no business winning that game in 3 ot's.But then again the Devils just refused to win in OT back then.

 

that richter bare handed "save" gets overrated as well. He didn't even save it with his bare hand, just barely nudged the puck as he rolled over. More BS Rag lore


Edited by '7', 17 April 2014 - 07:41 PM.

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^7^ is just defending his sport sheeps.. as Alcibiades the exiled Athenian rationalizes in his speech to the enemy Spartans, he wants to take revenge on Athens because he loves it and can't stand to see the state it's in now - Triumph
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#6 MadDog2020

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 07:45 PM

I remember John MacLean broke Nik Sundstroms arm with a slash later in the rags series and received no suspension as an even up for the league ignoring the Messier cross check (which I don't remember that well but seeing it in replays it was pretty brutal and blatant)

game 4 of the Habs series annoyed me. fvcking Jose Theodore had no business winning that game in 3 ot's.But then again the Devils just refused to win in OT back then.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure MacLean WAS suspended a game (maybe 2, I can't remember) for the slash on Sundstrom. But man I remember being irate about the Messier cross-check on Gilmour, and even more irate that it wasn't punished. Between that and all the crease goals we had waved off, I was ready to shoot an embolism by the time that series was over.


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#7 hit the post

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 07:53 PM

I was at game 1. I literally had no voice left after Marty scored lol. The 'ol CAA went nuts when that puck went in. Great moment, one of many great Marty moments I'm proud to say I witnessed in person.

I was also at that game (well every game) Marty shot the puck right at us,saw it all the way from my seats...sec 223 row 4. I still have the program from the game and had it signed by Marty a few years later.Playoff programs don't look anything like reg season ones,done on the cheap but still wanted him to sign it.


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And The Rags Have How Many Cups--Can't win many with a Farm team.

#8 Triumph

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 08:36 PM

Jesus can't you guys stay on topic, everyone knows what happens after that.  I remember commenting after Game 1 to some Rangers fans that Brodeur had more playoff goals than the Rangers - they'd been shut out in their Game 1.

 

I was on some IRC channel after Game 4 and my quit message was fvck JOSE THEODORE - I returned the next day to find out I'd been banned for profanity.  Ah, the late 90s.  Hard to believe Theodore just hung them up this season - had a pretty nice career.


Edited by Triumph, 17 April 2014 - 08:36 PM.

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#9 95Crash

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 08:57 PM

I was at Game 1 too, upper bowl, near the top, close to center ice. I remember looking at Marty and saying out loud, "He's going to shoot!" and then watching him jump up and down as it went in. What a fun moment.


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#10 devilsrule33

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 09:03 PM

Jesus can't you guys stay on topic, everyone knows what happens after that.  I remember commenting after Game 1 to some Rangers fans that Brodeur had more playoff goals than the Rangers - they'd been shut out in their Game 1.

 

I was on some IRC channel after Game 4 and my quit message was fvck JOSE THEODORE - I returned the next day to find out I'd been banned for profanity.  Ah, the late 90s.  Hard to believe Theodore just hung them up this season - had a pretty nice career.

 

17 seasons is nice, but I always thought he was a bit of a disappointment. Maybe the 2001-2002 year was never going to be replicated (the Hart trophy was a little much), but his end in MTL was bad, his stint in Colorado was awful, and Washington was not good either. A lot of bad playoff performances on some teams that maybe had higher expectations.

 

His last playoff series wasn't all that bad. He was pretty strong against Jersey.

 

I still can't get over how poorly the Habs were fun from a 5-6 year period with Rejean Houle in charge. From the Roy trade, the Turgeon deal (that I discussed), the Recchi deal later on for Zubrus and a 2nd round pick. Trading away the 10th overall pick for Trevor Linden and not being able to draft one NHL regular let alone good player in any 1st round of a draft he oversaw. 

 

There was enough talent on the 94-95 and 95-96 team to figure things out and get better. As weird as it sounds, trading Lyle Odelein for Stephane Richer was not helping either. They could have used him with that atrocious defense.


Edited by devilsrule33, 17 April 2014 - 09:06 PM.

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"The Stanley Cup has fallen from the Stars. The new millennium has its first Stanley Cup Champion, and it's the New Jersey Devils." Mike Miller calling the Devils winning the Stanley Cup.

"It goes to the captain and then there are handoffs during a skate around the ice" Mike Emrick as Scott Stevens is being presented the Stanley Cup.


#11 William D'Aquila

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 09:24 PM

I blame Stevens for what happened in 97, the lack of response from the Devils following the crosscheck to Gilmour was horrible. I think if we had Claude we win the cup that year and don't miss in 96.


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#12 '7'

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 09:30 PM

Missing Andreychuk was what really hurt us in 1997, that and Richter just turning into an absolute brick wall. But yea, Stevens didn't have a great postseason stretch through 1999. Jagr made him look awful in games 6 and 7 in 1999. The game 6 tying goal was hideous.


Edited by '7', 17 April 2014 - 09:32 PM.

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^7^ is just defending his sport sheeps.. as Alcibiades the exiled Athenian rationalizes in his speech to the enemy Spartans, he wants to take revenge on Athens because he loves it and can't stand to see the state it's in now - Triumph
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#13 MadDog2020

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 09:49 PM

I'm with William re: Pep. I REALLY would love to have seen what the 96-99 teams would've done if we didn't make that atrocious fvcking trade... The worst trade Lou's ever made.


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#14 MadDog2020

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 09:51 PM

I know Pep initiated it because he wanted to re-negotiate his deal after the playoffs, but I just wish a common ground was reached instead of dealing away the Conn Smyth Trophy winner for fvcking Steve Thomas.


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#15 devilsrule33

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 09:57 PM

I know Pep initiated it because he wanted to re-negotiate his deal after the playoffs, but I just wish a common ground was reached instead of dealing away the Conn Smyth Trophy winner for fvcking Steve Thomas.

 

Thomas just never clicked in NJ. He left the Devils and had two excellent seasons for the Leafs and 3 straight really nice playoff runs (two ended by the Devils). He

was then scoring an OT winner against the Devils in the finals.

 

In the end, Lou fixed things when he overpayed for Lemieux in 2000, but it all worked out swimmingly. And like that, he was gone again.


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"The Stanley Cup has fallen from the Stars. The new millennium has its first Stanley Cup Champion, and it's the New Jersey Devils." Mike Miller calling the Devils winning the Stanley Cup.

"It goes to the captain and then there are handoffs during a skate around the ice" Mike Emrick as Scott Stevens is being presented the Stanley Cup.


#16 MadDog2020

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 10:01 PM

Thomas just never clicked in NJ. He left the Devils and had two excellent seasons for the Leafs and 3 straight really nice playoff runs (two ended by the Devils). He
was then scoring an OT winner against the Devils in the finals.

In the end, Lou fixed things when he overpayed for Lemieux in 2000, but it all worked out swimmingly. And like that, he was gone again.

Right? I wanted him back for 2001. And again- if we have Lemieux that year, do we lose to Colorado? His presence could have made a huge difference, especially against his former team.


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#17 '7'

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 10:06 PM

Right? I wanted him back for 2001. And again- if we have Lemieux that year, do we lose to Colorado? His presence could have made a huge difference, especially against his former team.

 

If we have Lemieux (and an injured McKay) we probably beat Colorado

 

also it would've helped if Brodeur could stop a shot. He was pretty bad in those playoffs


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^7^ is just defending his sport sheeps.. as Alcibiades the exiled Athenian rationalizes in his speech to the enemy Spartans, he wants to take revenge on Athens because he loves it and can't stand to see the state it's in now - Triumph
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#18 '7'

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 10:14 PM

Thomas just never clicked in NJ. He left the Devils and had two excellent seasons for the Leafs and 3 straight really nice playoff runs (two ended by the Devils). He

was then scoring an OT winner against the Devils in the finals.

 

In the end, Lou fixed things when he overpayed for Lemieux in 2000, but it all worked out swimmingly. And like that, he was gone again.

 

It was a dispute over a faxed contract. I think Claude's Devils contract he signed on a faxed copy and after the 95 Cup he tried to claim that it was invalid? Something like that. Arbitrator ruled in the Devils favor after Claude threatened to hold out.

 

Claude was willing to report but Lou took an old Lou hardline stance and told Claude to stay away...and then they traded him.

 

Lemieux pulled a stunt no doubt, but Lou needed to be more forgiving. Back then he was too iron fisted.


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^7^ is just defending his sport sheeps.. as Alcibiades the exiled Athenian rationalizes in his speech to the enemy Spartans, he wants to take revenge on Athens because he loves it and can't stand to see the state it's in now - Triumph
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#19 PacificDevil

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 10:17 PM

If we have Lemieux (and an injured McKay) we probably beat Colorado

also it would've helped if Brodeur could stop a shot. He was pretty bad in those playoffs


Don't forget missing Nieds, concussed by Tie Domi in East Conference semis - really fortunate turn of events for Colorado
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#20 Mike Brown

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Posted 17 April 2014 - 10:20 PM

I'm with William re: Pep. I REALLY would love to have seen what the 96-99 teams would've done if we didn't make that atrocious fvcking trade... The worst trade Lou's ever made.

 

Those sequence of trades were odd.  Verbeek for Turgeon.  Turgeon for Lemieux.  Lemieux for Thomas.

 

If we have Lemieux (and an injured McKay) we probably beat Colorado

 

also it would've helped if Brodeur could stop a shot. He was pretty bad in those playoffs

 

The Avs were also without Forsberg don't forget.


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