Saturday, June 9, 2012
After winning the Atlantic Division with a 46-20-10-6 record for 108 points, the 2002-03 New Jersey Devils, with the fourth best record, entered the NHL playoffs against the seventh seeded Boston Bruins. New Jersey got their postseason off to a great start, winning 2-1 thanks to a pair of goals by Jamie Langenbrunner. They also won Game 2 after third period goals by Langenbrunner and Joe Nieuwendyk broke a 2-2 tie.
Martin Brodeur shut out the Bruins back in Boston in Game 3 with 29 saves, and after a Game 4 loss, Brodeur repeated the feat with an identical 3-0 shutout, with Langenbrunner scoring his 4th and 5th goals of the series in the third period to seal Boston's fate.
The Devils advanced to face the Tampa Bay Lightning, where were seeded third in the east thanks to their winning the Southeast Division, despite only having the east's fifth best record. The Devils and Brodeur stayed hot, shutting out the Lightning 3-0 to open the series, as Brodeur was require to make only 15 saves as Langenbrunner got the game winner at 7:41 of the third period. Langenbrunner's torrid pace continued, as he scored the game winner in overtime of Game 2, for a 3-2 Devils win.
Tampa Bay won Game 3 back at home before the Devils closed them out with consecutive wins to advance to the Conference Finals where they would take on the President's Trophy winning Ottawa Senators.
Game 1 in Ottawa went into overtime before the Senators prevailed, but New Jersey got an important win on the road in Game 2 to even the series at 1-1 heading back to New Jersey, where Brodeur posted yet another shut out, holding the second leading scoring team in the league off the board with 24 saves.
New Jersey would push Ottawa to the brink with a 5-2 win in Game 4, but the Senators would no be going away quietly, as they came back to win the next two games by scores of 3-1 at home and 2-1 in overtime back in New Jersey to force a Game 7 back in Ottawa.
The Senators broke out on top, but Langenbrunner regained his scoring touch with a pair of goals in the second period to take the lead. Ottawa tied the game early in the third but Jeff Friesen eliminated the Senators with his fifth goal of the playoffs with less than 2:30 remaining to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Freisen scores to eliminate the Senators in Game 7
Meanwhile in the West, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim swept the Detroit Red Wings in four, eliminated the Dallas Stars in six and locked down the Minnesota Wild by allowing the Wild one goal in their four game sweep thanks to the goaltending of Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
With both Brodeur and Giguere entering the finals with four shutouts, everyone knew goals would likely be at a premium, and sure enough, both Games 1 and 2 were matching 16 save shutouts in favor of Brodeur by identical scores of 3-0, raising Brodeur's postseason shutout total to six while Friesen closed out the scoring both nights to raise his goal total to 8.
The Devils strong defense shut out Anaheim in Games 1 and 2
The Mighty Ducks fought back at home with a 3-2 win thanks to defenseman Ruslan Salei's overtime winner in Game 3 and Giguere's turn to get the clean sheet with his 26 save shutout, his fifth.
Something strange was in the water for Game 5, as the teams combined for nine goals as Langenbrunner scored two more in the third to extend the Devils 4-3 lead to a 6-3 final score. They were his 10th and 11th of the playoffs. Game 6 was the Mighty Ducks turn to light the lamp, scorching Brodeur for three goals in the first period and chasing him from the net in an eventual 5-2 win to force a winner-take-all Game 7.
Game 7, played on this date in 2003 in New Jersey, was scoreless after the first period as both defenses limited the amount of chances as the Devils were credited with 7 shots to Anaheim's 5. Rookie Mike Rupp scored his first goal of the playoffs from Scott Niedermayer and Colin White at 2:22. Ten minutes later, Friesen struck for his 9th goal from Rupp and Niedermayer at 12:18 while Brodeur held Anaheim at bay with another 9 saves.
Friesen extended the New Jersey lead to 3-0 with his 10th goal with 3:44 left in the season from Rupp and Devils captain Scott Stevens. It was a memorable night for Rupp, who was credited with the game winning goal and finished at a +3 and scored 3 of his 4 total playoff points while only playing in 4 of the Devils 24 postseason games.
The Mighty Ducks were never able to solve Brodeur, who finished the game with 24 saves and an NHL record 7th playoff shutout in one year. The win was the Devils 12th on home ice, also a record.
Langenbrunner led all playoff scorers in goals with 11 and was tied for the points lead at 18 with Niedermayer (2 goals, 16 assists). John Madden was close behind with 16 points and Friesen's 10 goals were one back of Langenbrunner's 11. Add in the fine defensive efforts of Stevens and Niedermayer, along with White and Brian Rafalski, helping Broduer to the shutout record, the candidates for the Conn Smythe Trophy were numerous, so it certainly caught many off guard when Giguere was named the winner over Broduer despite Brodeur setting the shutout record and winning their head to head battle for the cup 12 goals to 18. It was only the fifth time a player on the losing team won the award since it was first handed out in 1965.
Broduer was later recognized with his first Vezina Trophy for his league leading 41 wins and 9 shutouts as well as his 2.02 goals against average and .914 save percentage.
Brodeur with the Jennings Trophy, Stanley Cup and Vezina Trophy
Today's featured jersey is a 2002-03 New Jersey Devils Martin Brodeur jersey as worn during the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals. This jersey is distinguished by the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals patch worn by both the Devils and the Mighty Ducks, a tradition which began back in the 1989 finals and has continued ever since.
Today's video segment are the highlights of Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals, in which Brodeur shut out the Mighty Ducks to set a new NHL record with 7 shutouts in one playoffs season.