Devils Still Have Life, But…

By HOWARD BERGER

NEWARK (June 10) – Relax, southern California… the Hollywood script is unfolding.

It wouldn’t be appropriate for a team to dominate the Stanley Cup playoffs the way the Los Angeles Kings have this spring and win the National Hockey League championship 2,445 miles away from home. Believe, instead, my crystal ball: the one that chose L.A. to be in the Cup final (against Philadelphia) last October and picked the Kings over New Jersey in this series. On May 26, I wrote:

And, though it’s always difficult to bet against Martin Brodeur – the 40-year-old that has eclipsed every meaningful goaltending record in the NHL – I have a hunch the Kings are going to complete their astonishing spring with a six-game triumph over the Devils, hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time, at Staples Center, on June 11.

So, take it easy, L.A. fan. You know how desperately you wanted to go berserk outside your glitzy arena after Game 4 on Thursday night. Instead, the plaza and adjacent L.A. Live complex was like a morgue. Now you get a second chance – up close and in person – to see your team win the most recognizable trophy in all of sport.

It is in the cards… trust me.

Meantime, keep the porch-light on; I’m coming’ back your way.

I DIDN’T WARN THESE PEOPLE OF MY LOS ANGELES-IN-SIX PREDICTION AFTER LAST NIGHT’S GAME. THEY WERE TOO BUSY WHOOPING IT UP OUTSIDE PRUDENTIAL CENTER.

2012 STANLEY CUP FINAL…

GAME 5: PRUDENTIAL CENTER, NEWARK NJ

FACE-PAINTERS WERE DOING BRISK BUSINESS IN THE SQUARE NEXT TO PRUDENTIAL CENTER BEFORE GAME 5, AS FANS OF BOTH TEAMS MADE THEIR WAY TO THE ARENA.

PRE-GAME WARMUPS…

THIS HAD BEEN AN ODD SIGHT TOWARD THE END OF EACH WARM-UP THE KINGS HAVE TAKEN IN THE PLAYOFFS: DEFENSEMAN WILLIE MITCHELL SEATED ON THE BENCH ACCOMPANIED – AT THE BOARDS – BY TEAMMATE JUSTIN WILLIAMS. OBVIOUSLY, THERE’S SOMETHING TO IT. I JUST HAVEN’T FOUND OUT YET.

BATHED IN RED…

LIGHT-SHOW AT THE ROCK.

OLD GLORY IS FLASHED ON THE 200 x 85 (ABOVE) DURING THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER WHILE A GIANT AMERICAN FLAG IS PASSED THROUGH THE CROWD (BELOW) JUST PRIOR TO THE OPENING FACE-OFF BETWEEN PATRICK ELIAS AND ANZE KOPITAR.

EARLY IN THE GAME, ELIAS GOT PLASTERED INTO THE END BOARDS BY KINGS’ DEFENSEMAN MATT GREENE (ABOVE) AND STAYED DOWN FOR A FEW MOMENTS (BELOW).

ELIAS QUICKLY RECOVERED AND WAS OUT HANDLING THE PUCK (ABOVE) DURING A DEVILS’ POWERPLAY THAT CULMINATED (BELOW) WITH ZACH PARISE CONVERTING A BRUTAL GIVE-AWAY BEHIND THE NET BY L.A. GOALIE JONATHAN QUICK.

DEVILS AND FANS REJOICE (ABOVE). OPENING FRAME ENDED 1-0 FOR THE HOME SIDE.

MOMENTS AFTER THE SECOND-PERIOD FACE-OFF (ABOVE) BETWEEN KOPITAR AND ADAM HENRIQUE, L.A. STRUCK FOR THE TYING GOAL, BY JUSTIN WILLIAMS, AT 3:26 – THE KINGS’ FORWARD LEADING THE FIST-PUMPING PROCESSION TOWARD THE BENCH (BELOW).

MARTIN BRODEUR PULLS IT TOGETHER (ABOVE) AS THE TEAMS FACE OFF (BELOW) AFTER WILLIAMS’ GOAL. IT WOULD BE THE VISITORS’ LONE MARKER.

KINGS COACH DARRYL SUTTER HAS A QUICK WORD (ABOVE) WITH REFEREE DAN O’HALLORAN WHILE BRODEUR AND QUICK REFRESH (BELOW) DURING TV BREAK.

DEVILS AND THEIR FANS CELEBRATE (ABOVE) AS BRYCE SALAVADOR RECLAIMS THE LEAD JUST PAST THE MIDWAY MARK OF REGULATION TIME. THE SECOND PERIOD WOULD END WITH NEW JERSEY MAINTAINING ITS SLIM ADVANTAGE.

LOS ANGELES BEGAN THE FINAL FRAME WITH SALVADOR OFF FOR HIGH-STICKING AND THOUGH ANZE KOPITAR GOT CLOSE TO BRODEUR (BELOW), NO HARM WAS DONE.

BRODEUR CONTINUES TO HOLD THE FORT (ABOVE) AS DEVILS FANS LOOK ON ANXIOUSLY, HOPING THEIR TEAM CAN EXTEND THE CUP FINAL.

THERE WAS MORE ACTION AROUND BRODEUR IN THE FINAL MOMENTS OF REGULATION TIME, BUT THE VETERAN GOALIE DID NOT WAVER.

A BRIEF WRESTLING MATCH ENSUED (ABOVE) AFTER DAVID CLARKSON GOT A BIT TOO CLOSE TO QUICK. SLAVA VOYNOV (26) PULLED CLARKSON AWAY FROM THE PILE.

QUICK RACED TO THE BENCH (ABOVE) FOR AN EXTRA ATTACKER WITH MORE THAN ONE MINUTE LEFT ON THE CLOCK, BUT THE KINGS HAD NO STEAM LEFT AS THE FINAL BUZZER SOUNDED (BELOW).

DEVILS CELEBRATE THEIR SERIES-EXTENDING TRIUMPH.

ELLIOTTE FRIEDMAN OF HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA DOES POST-GAME INTERVIEW ON THE ICE WITH BRODEUR (ABOVE) WHILE PIERRE McGUIRE TALKS TO ZACH PARISE ON NBC HERE IN THE U.S. BRODEUR THEN HEADS TO THE DRESSING ROOM (BELOW).

FANS – MOST HAPPY – LEAVE PRUDENTIAL CENTER (ABOVE AND BELOW).

PARTY ON…

A FEW FORLORN EXPRESSIONS WERE MIXED AMONG THE MOSTLY JUBILANT HOCKEY FANATICS THAT PORED OUT OF THE DEVILS’ HOME ARENA AFTER THE GAME 5 VICTORY:

THE NEWARK POLICE DEPARTMENT CLEARLY STILL HAS FAITH.

Email: howardLberger@gmail.com

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