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New Jersey Devils

Conference: Eastern

Division: Metropolitan

Stadium: Prudential Center (capacity)

Head Coach: Lindy Ruff (2020-present)

Starting Goaltender: Vitek Vanecek

Star Players: Jack Hughes (C), Jesper Bratt (LW), Dougie Hamilton (D)

2022-23 Regular Season: 52-22-8 (3rd in Eastern Conference)

2023 Playoffs: Eastern Conference Semifinals (defeated 4-1 by the Carolina Hurricanes

Legendary Former Players: Martin Brodeur (G), Scott Stevens (D), Scott Niedermayer (D)

Stanley Cups (NHL Championships): 3 - 1995, 2000, 2003

New Jersey Devils

The New Jersey Devils, like the state they come from, have often been scoffed at or even derided in the face of their glitzier, more storied rivals across the Hudson River, the New York Rangers (who play their home games in Madison Square Garden in Manhattan). Up until the mid-1990s, even the New York Islanders could look down their noses at the Devils, pointing to their four consecutive Stanley Cups in the early 1980s as opposed to the Devils’ lack of silverware. The Devils arrived in their current home via quite the journey as a franchise, beginning life as an NHL team as the short-lived and awfully-monikered Kansas City Scouts and trying their luck in Denver as the Colorado Rockies before relocating to New Jersey. The team spent their early years getting beat up by the local rivals in their division, failing to make the playoffs for five straight seasons. The breakthrough came in the playoffs of 1988, when, after just squeaking into the playoffs, the Devils upset the Islanders in six before defeating the Washington Capitals in an epic seven-game series to set up a Conference Finals date with the mighty Boston Bruins. The Devils pushed the Bruins all the way, but fell apart at last in Game Seven, which they lost 6-2. Expectations were raised, but the Devils lapsed back into a string of first round playoff losses until at last in 1993 it seemed that things were starting to come together for the team. Squeezing past the Buffalo Sabres and swatting aside the Bruins, the Devils progressed to their second Conference Finals, this time against the Rangers, their big-time Big Apple local rivals. The Devils seemed poised to reach their first-ever Stanley Cup Finals with a 3-2 series lead going into Game Six, but Mark Messier, the legendary captain who had previously won five Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers, led the Rangers to fight back and claim the final two games to break New Jersey hearts. This time, however, the Devils would build on their success, when, backstopped by the inestimable Martin Brodeur in goal and unflappable Scott Stevens in defense, the team brushed aside the Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Philadelphia Flyers to progress to the Stanley Cup Finals. The Detroit Red Wings looked a tough opponent, but the Devils were on too much of a roll to be stopped, and swept the series in four, having dropped just 4 games en route to their first championship. Apart from one post-Stanley Cup blip season where they failed to make the playoffs, the Devils remained one of the best teams in the league through the rest of the 1990s, finishing first in the Eastern Conference three times in a row but coming up short in the playoffs. The new millennium beckoned brightly, though, when the Devils surged through the playoffs and beat the Dallas Stars in the 2000 Finals to secure their second Cup. They were back at it again in 2001, losing one of the most tightly contested Finals matchups of all time to the talented and determined Colorado Avalanche who came from being a game behind in Game Six to win Game Seven 3-1 and deny the Devils a second consecutive Cup. A third Cup would come their way in 2003 after a scintillating seven-game Conference Finals against the Ottawa Senators, when the Devils defeated the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, winning a see-saw battle that also stretched to seven games. The team stayed competitive in the ensuing years, always in playoff contention, and made one more Finals appearance in 2012 where they lost to the Los Angeles Kings. Recent years have not been as kind to the New Jersey Devils, with the team slipping outside the playoffs all but twice in the past decade. Devils fans, however, still remember what it feels like to reach the game’s loftiest heights and will be hoping to see their team climb towards them in the upcoming years.


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