The Devils Are Rivals With the Islanders, Right?

April 15, 2019 - Devils Army Blog - View Full Article

On the first night of the playoffs, I found myself at one of my sports bars glancing between the Tampa Bay-Columbus game, and the New York Islanders-Pittsburgh Penguins game. Next to me sat a long-suffering Islanders fan, dressed in the infamous fisherman jersey. Although at first, I pitied him for wearing the single ugliest sweater to grace NHL ice. But as the night progressed, I found myself as a temporary ally and companion in his teamís quest for a game one victory.

Why the change of heart to suddenly side with a fish sticks fan? It was the fact they were playing the Pittsburgh Penguins. I donít hate the New York Islanders, but I strongly dislike them. A victory for the Islanders mean I donít have to see Sidney Crosby skate off with the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in my lifetime. With a temporary truce, the enemy of my enemy has become my friend.

That hasnít come without criticism that Devils fans shouldnít dare root for another New York hockey team (I just want them to beat the Pens, then they can get utterly destroyed by the Hurricanes or Capitals for all I care). We know deep in our hearts that our main rival is and will always be the New York Rangers, who like us are playing golf while Barry Trotz and the Islanders play on, but are the Islanders really the Devils’ rivals? More importantly, are we bitter enough rivals that we canít temporarily join forces to defeat a common enemy?

New Jersey Devils left wing Taylor Hall (Phot from CBS Sports)

The best explanation for the Devils and Islanders rivalry is a friendly rivalry. When we play them, we go out for bragging rights for the New York/New Jersey area, but otherwise, we look at each other as harmless threats. We can appreciate from a distance what our former general manager Lou Lamoriello ó and Barry Trotz ó have done to turn that downtrodden franchise around, as long as they realize when they come to Prudential Center it means war.

Famed New York sports host and noted anger enthusiast Mike Francesa started off the conversation with his own Twitter poll ďIs It Fraudulent for Devils fans to root for the Islanders in the Playoffs?Ē The results were dead locked at 50% for each choice, straight down the middle. Twitter followers were quick to tell the silver fox with a radio microphone that our main quarrels lie with the Blueshirts at MSG. Islanders fans even chimed in support by saying that they donít hate the Devils, either, but hate the Rangers just as much.

Itís likely the same for Islanders fans. Ask a Rangers fan why they hate the Devils and theyíll whip out a 300-slide power point written in MLA format and deliver it like a college thesis (donít worry, Iím well prepared for the ensuing argument). Ask an Islanders fan why they hate the Devils, and theyíd probably struggle to find an answer and leave you with ďat least we both hate the Rangers, right?Ē

So yes, the Islanders are a rival, but not rival enough we canít find common ground against a shared enemy. So even though it cringes me to say it, Go Islanders (AGAINST THE PITTSBURGH PENGUINS ONLY, THANK YOU).

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Why Iím Rooting for the Tampa Bay Lightning

April 11, 2019 - Devils Army Blog - View Full Article

Writer’s Twitter: @ChrisMottHockey

This will be the year that the curse of winning the President’s Trophy will end. The Tampa Bay Lightning are dominant in every phase of the game from offense to defense to goaltending. There are keys to why Tampa will go all the way this season.

They have so much depth scoring and players on the squad that opposing teams never get a long break from extremely talented play. Even if a team can handle Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Brayden Point, can they handle Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Yanni Gourde, etc? And don’t forget about dynamic defenseman Victor Hedman on the backend as well. There is a reason why Tampa dominated the whole season and there’s no reason for that not to continue in the playoffs, especially with the next key to their upcoming success. They have the ability to beat you with speed, finesse, dynamic playmaking, and even play physical at times. If a team is able to generate any kind of consistent pressure on Tampa, good luck getting past Andrei Vasilevsky.

Tampa is loaded with veteran leadership and playoff experience on the majority of the roster. Some of the players from the team that lost in the Cup Final to Chicago four years ago include Stamkos, Kucherov, Palat, Johnson, Callahan, Hedman, Anton Stralman, Brayden Coburn, and Vasilevsky, who was backup for Ben Bishop at the time but played when Bishop got hurt. Not to mention Stamkos has been to the Eastern Conference Finals at least twice in his career.

Outside of them, there are also players such as Ryan McDonough and Dan Girardi. Tampa is not short on veteran leadership and knows what it takes to win this time of year. Tampa’s biggest test will be playing the Capitals in the Eastern Conference Finals, but I see them emerging victorious and ending the run for a repeat for Washington. Tampa will go through Boston to get there, but I see Washington as a slightly harder matchup for them to overcome than Boston but one they will overcome.

The curse of the President’s Trophy winners not winning the Stanley Cup will be over this year. The Apex of Stammer Time will come with him hoisting the cup at the end of the playoffs and Tampa Bay winning the cup for the first time since 2004 when they beat the Calgary Flames. I’ll continue saying what I’ve said for about half the season, just inscribe Tampa Bay on the cup already, they will get it done this year.

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