The 25th anniversary of the Devils’ first Stanley Cup
The New Jersey Devils won their first Stanley Cup on June 24th, 1995, defeating the heavily favored Detroit Red Wings four games to none. The 1994-95 NHL season was shortened by a lockout and the teams played only 48 regular season games.
The Devils didn’t have a particularly stellar regular season, finishing fifth in the conference (2nd in the division behind the Philadelphia Flyers). Despite not having home ice advantage in any round of the playoffs, the Devils first eliminated Boston 4 games to 1 in the quarterfinals, then defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1, and, in the conference finals, took out the Flyers 4-2, winning all three games in Philadelphia.
The finals pitted one of the original six NHL teams, and the #1 seed in the Western Conference, the Detroit Red Wings, making their nineteenth appearance in the Finals, against the Devils who were making their first Finals appearance in their 21st season of existence (spanning three locations).
Detroit had home ice advantage, having posted the best regular season record, and had been 8-0 at home up until that point in the playoffs. The tone for the series was set in the first game, however, as the Devils’ stifling defense held the powerful Detroit offense to just 17 shots in a 2-1 Devils win, their ninth road win of the playoffs. Game 2 might be best remembered for the jarring hit that Devils’ captain Scott Stevens laid on Vyacheslav Kozlov that knocked Kozlov out of the game with a concussion. The Devils won that game 4-2.
The series then shifted to the Brendan Byrne Arena, and apparently, the Devils liked playing at home, building a 5-0 lead and cruising to a 5-2 win. Game four saw a raucous crowd in the Meadowlands, chanting “over-rated” at the visiting Red Wings. The Devils only led 3-2 starting the third period, but added two more goals for another convincing 5-2, winning their first Stanley Cup. At the time, the Devils were the lowest seed to ever win a Cup and it was the latest in the calendar year that a Stanley Cup had ever been decided (because of the lockout).
The Devils have been in the Stanley Cup Finals four times since, winning two (’99-’00 and ’02-’03). Congrats to the Devils on their 25th anniversary!
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.