Now 10 games into a roller coaster playoff run, the Devils have shown that they are as resilient as pretty much any other team in the league, if just a teensy bit inconsistent. This is in stark contrast to much of the last decade where when the team went down, they typically stayed down. Given how poorly that last decade went, most people were just hoping that the Devils might be a scrappy bubble team this year. Obviously, at this point, they have far surpassed those original hopes and expectations. But you also don't get to be a team that shows its resiliency so frequently without putting yourself in a position to, well, need to be resilient as often as the Devils seem to do.
Since pretty much day one of the season, the Devils have kept everyone on their toes. After two five to two beatdowns to start the season at the hands of the Flyers and Red Wings, things appeared to be headed in a similar grim direction as much of the previous decade. That sparked the now famous( infamous?) Fire Lindy chant that echoed through the Prudential Center at the home opener. The Devil's would respond to that by winning 19 of their next 21 games, including a franchise record tying 13 game win streak.
After that long streak of success, the Devils then hit the skids to get everybody wondering about the team again. In December the team had a long losing streak where they couldn't score and even when they did seem to write the ship in January the team still lagged in overall performance with many games ending in wins seemingly in spite of the way the team played. The devil's fought through that mid-season lull too, though, and finished the final few months strong.
Even within games across the season, the devil's would seem like they just didn't have it on a given night and then suddenly come alive to turn the game around. They finished the season with the most comeback victories in the entire NHL, and it was difficult to really count them out of any game. The team didn't always have it, but they knew how to find it.
As we are now well into the second round of the postseason, the devil's seem almost addicted to challenging themselves with the most difficult possible scenarios. Against the Rangers, they let game one get away from them, and then got clobbered in game two to follow it up. Things looked truly bleak for the devils at that point, but when that series shifted to New York, the team found a way to bounce back. After gridding out a game 3 victory, the Devils would go on to wax the Rangers in three of the next four games, including a complete decimation in game 7.
Instead of rolling into the next round with momentum, though, the Devils decided to set up a new obstacle for themselves. Games one and two of their second round Series against Carolina went perhaps even more poorly than those first two against the Rangers. Questions abounded. Could they keep up with this Hurricanes team that appeared to completely smother them in back to back games in Raleigh? As the series shifted back to the Rock on Sunday, they gave an immediate answer in resounding fashion. A dominant 8 - 4 win has again put them right back in the series.
This team is honestly tough to figure sometimes, as the last three games clearly showed. You never really know what Devils team you might get, but one thing you can seem to be sure of at this point is that you cannot count them out. For all the talk about needing experience to be able to navigate the grind of the postseason, the Devils, their collective age making them relative pups compared to most other teams, are very tough to hold down. Even when you think you have them figured out, they seem to be able to locate another gear. Even if you want to chalk some of these losses that seem to get away from them to lack of experience or letting the moment get to them, they seem to be gifted with extremely short memories. Put short, this team is very tough to kill.
Will the Devils be able to keep this up? They're still in a 2-1 hole against a stout, experienced Hurricanes team. This season and these playoffs, especially, have taught us that you can't write them off, though. However, the next few games shake out, we know as long as this Devils group has a pulse, there is hope. Here's hoping they can keep fighting they way they have and even this thing up tomorrow night.