Saturday, May 12, 2012

Top 10 Video Special - Devils moments in the Eastern Conference Finals

As we continue to wait for the start of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals between the Devils and...someone, I decided to take my ten favorite Devils moments from their six previous Conference Finals appearances and put together the 18th edition of the DGA Top 10 Video Special.

#10 - "Have another doughnut"

The Devils were in the midst of their first ever playoff appearance in the spring of 1988.  After barely making the playoffs on the regular season's final day, the Devils won two rounds and found themselves in the Conference Finals against the Boston Bruins.  Game 3 didn't go so well for the Devils, but this is still one of the most memorable moments in franchise history, courtesy of Jim Schoenfeld.

#9 - "We're the DEVILS!!!"

This moment didn't occur on the ice, but it's a famous moment nonetheless.  During the 1994 Conference Finals, Seinfeld featured Elaine's boyfriend David Puddy decked out in Devils gear, and he properly ticked off his Ranger fan friends.

#8 - Claude Lemieux's 43728th goal of the series

Well, I exaggerated a bit, but Claude Lemieux had arguably the best single playoff season of any Devil in history.  With the Devils and Flyers tied in the series and Game 5 late in the third period, Lemieux beat Ron Hextall five-hole.  A Devil beat a Flyers goalie five-hole...I guess some things never change.

#7 - Stanley Cup bound at last!

Did I mention how good Claude Lemieux was in the 1995 playoffs?  Here's his goal in Game 6 against Philly that all-but clinched the series for the Devils, as they finally broke through and won the Eastern Conference, and eventually the Stanley Cup four games later.

#6 - The hit felt 'round the world

The 2000 Eastern Conference Finals might be the greatest series in Devils' playoff history.  After fighting back from a 3-1 series deficit to force a Game 7 in Philly, Scott Stevens delivered one of the biggest hits you'll ever see.  He'd probably get Shanabanned for a month if he tried this now, but at the time, this was a textbook legal hit.  Never keep your head down when #4 is on the ice.

#5 - The comeback is complete

Later in that same Game 7, and still tied, 1-1, the Devils broke through.  With 2:32 remaining in the third period, Patrik Elias' second goal of the game had the Devils on their way to their second Stanley Cup Finals berth, and of course, their second championship.

#4 - Not in our house

The 2001 Eastern Conference Finals wasn't a particularly long series, but it started off with Bobby Holik being Bobby Holik.  This couldn't have been fun for Darius Kasparitis.

#3 - Bobby Holik's game winner

In Game 5, it was Bobby Holik taking charge once again.  This time, he scored what would be the series-winning goal, beating Penguins youngster Johan Hedberg.  Where's that Hedberg guy now?

#2 - Brodeur saves the day...and the season

Before there was Friesen's game-winner in Game 7 of the 2003 Conference Finals, the Ottawa Senators nearly took a lead of their own.  The Devils' defense decided to take a third period nap, but Martin Brodeur bailed them out.  But hey, he didn't win the Conn Smythe, so he couldn't have been that good...

#1 - Friesen the Sens in their tracks

As the Devils overcame a 3-1 series deficit in the 2000 Conference Finals, the Senators attempted the same feat in 2003.  Jeff Friesen had other ideas, though.  Moments after Brodeur's big save on Marian Hossa (shown above), Friesen scored this goal late in regulation, and the Devils were on their way to their third Stanley Cup championship.

So those are my top Devils moments in Eastern Conference Finals history.  What will 2012 add to this list?  We'll find out starting Monday night.