After posting a 3-2-0 record on the team’s recent road trip, let’s look back on the New Jersey Devils’ playoff success against the NHL’s Canadian-based teams.
The arrow is green and pointing in the right direction, technically.
The New Jersey Devils finished their first extended road trip of the 2019-20 campaign by winning three out of five games. The journey began with a victory over the Carolina Hurricanes and ended on a good note with a nail-biting win over the Vancouver Canucks.
Speaking of the Canucks, goaltender MacKenzie Blackwood probably wishes he could face Vancouver more often.
The Devils second-year netminder was in net for both of the team’s victories over the Canucks this season, after he recorded one shutout and stopped 55-of-56 shots overall.
Big Mac's 30 saves earns him @mmschocolate Moment of the Game honors!#WeAreTheOnes | #NJDevils pic.twitter.com/5Cn45nB4yw
— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) November 11, 2019
Yet, the Devils were 2-2-0 against the four Canadian clubs they faced on the trip (Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton & Vancouver). All of those teams North of the Border are bidding for a spot in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, too.
That had ESNY thinking; how many times have the New Jersey Devils played a Canadian team in the Stanley Cup playoffs?
The answer is six times, but here’s a closer look at all the series.
After 14 seasons in the NHL, the Devils finally faced-off with a Canadian team in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
New Jersey met the Montreal Canadiens in the 1996-97 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals (first round), and handled the Habs with ease.
The great Martin Brodeur and company took down his beloved hometown of Montreal in five games. In fact, most fans’ fondest memory of the series was Brodeur scoring a goal after the Canadiens pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker in Game 1.
Still, an unbelievable sight right?
Unfortunately, the 1997 Atlantic Division champions bumped into their arch-nemesis the following round.
The New York Rangers eliminated the Devils and their Stanley Cup hopes in six games. It’s arguably still a sour subject for Jersey fans, especially considering that Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier were Broadway Blueshirts at the time.
One year later, the Devils met another Canadian squad in the playoffs – these things come in bunches apparently.
Head coach Jacques Lemaire and his Devils finished with the second-best overall record in the NHL during 1997-98 (48-23-11—107PTS) and hosted the Ottawa Senators in the quarterfinals. The Senators finished in the final and eighth spot for the Eastern Conference and were major underdogs entering the postseason.
Somehow New Jersey choked and lost the series in six games to Ottawa.
Another stacked Devils roster failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs, which also saw general manager Lou Lamoriello make a coaching change behind the bench that offseason (Robbie Ftorek).
The Toronto Sagas
New Jersey created an epic playoff rivalry with the Toronto Maple Leafs when the 2000 Stanley Cup playoffs rolled around.
Jersey met a competitive Leafs squad during the Eastern Conference Semifinals in back-to-back postseasons.
Mats Sundin, Curtis Joseph in addition to a few other big-named skaters, dropped both series to New Jersey in six games. Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Stevens still haunts those Maple Leafs teams in their sleep to this day.
He and the Devils shutdown the Sundin and his pals in commendable fashion both playoff seasons.
Fans can relive the Devils’ playoff dominance over Toronto here.
New Jersey’s next two playoff contests with a team North of the Border ended up again being against the Ottawa Senators.
En route to the Devils third Stanley Cup championship in 2003, New Jersey was tasked against a talented Senators squad during the Eastern Conference Finals that spring.
Surprisingly, the Devils opened the series by winning three of the series’ first four games; after the team dropped Game 1 in ugly fashion.
Still, the Devils appeared to be in the driver’s seat and were one game away from advancing to their third Stanley Cup final in four years.
The Sens stormed back with two victories and one of which was at the old Continental Airlines Arena in overtime.
Game 7 was exactly what everyone expected.
Both teams brought their “A” games, and the contest was tied at 2-2 heading into the latter stages of the third period. Though, Devils fans can recall the team’s game-winning goal like it was yesterday.
Forward Grant Marshall made an unbelievable pass through a Senators player’s legs which found Jeff Friesen to hammer home the game-winner with less than three minutes remaining in regulation.
Four seasons later, another competitive Ottawa squad met the Devils in the postseason and in the second round of the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs. However, it was a brief series as the Devils were defeated by a team that eventually advanced to the Stanley Cup final.
The Devils were eliminated in five games by Ottawa after the team had an exciting series win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round. However, four out of the five games were decided by one goal – a tough pill to swallow for all in Jersey.
That fifth and final game also marked forward Scott Gomez’s last game during his first stint (1999-2007) with New Jersey, but that’s a story for another time.