Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 04/18/09 at 05:13 PM ET
This is the fourth time Carolina and New Jersey have squared off in the playoffs since 2001, and there’s some interesting bits about the history of this rivalry. Most notably, the impact this matchup has had on the rest of the tournament. There’s also some interesting history of game two.
Every time these teams have met in the playoffs, the winner of the series goes on to play in the Cup final. Every game two winner has won the series. Each series has been won by the home team. And there’s been a lot of overtime. However, this is the first time the teams have split games one and two.
In 2001, top seeded New Jersey defeated the Hurricanes four games to two in the Eastern quarterfinal. They won the first three game, including shutouts in games two and three. Carolina bounced back for an overtime home win in game four and a road win in game five. The Devils wrapped it up on their home ice. After beating Toronto four games to three and Pittsburgh four games to one, they found themselves in the Cup final. In the final, they lost four games to three against the Avalanche
In 2002, Carolina won the Southeast division and the third seed in the East. They beat the Devils four games to two in the Eastern quarterfinal. Games one and two were both 2-1 victories, with overtime needed in game two. The Devils responded with two wins on their home ice. Carolina held serve with an overtime win at home in game five, then Kevin Weekes pitched a shutout in Jersey to win the series. Carolina went on to beat Montréal four games to two and Toronto by the same series score. In the Cup final, Carolina was beaten four games to one by Detroit.
In 2006, Carolina beat the Canadiens four games to two in the Eastern quarterfinal and met the Devils in the semi. Including the last stretch of the regular season, the Devils had won 15 games in a row, but Carolina wasn’t threatened. They beat the Devils four games to one. Cam Ward earned his first career postseason shutout in that game with a brutal 6-0 beating of Martin Brodeur. Game two was the classic game. Scott Gomez scored the apparent game-winner with 21 seconds left, but Eric Staal answered with three seconds remaining. Nic Wallin gave the Hurricanes victory in the extra frame. Carolina won game three in New Jersey, but the Devils staved off the sweep with a gutty win in game four. Carolina finished it off with a solid win at home. The Canes went on to beat Buffalo in the conference final four games to three. Of course they also won the Cup four games to three over Edmonton.
Three series, each won by the home team. Each aided by a sweep of games one and two. Obviously, that won’t be repeating this season.
Prior to this playoff season, there were a total of 17 games between the teams. Carolina held a 10-7 postseason record against the Devils. Four decided by overtime, and all of those gone Carolina’s way. Now we can add one more win for each team, including another overtime win for Carolina.
When this series is over, there will still be one trend. Either the team that always wins game one takes the series, or the team that always takes game two.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.