New Jersey Devils rookie center Adam Henrique scored less than four minutes into double overtime of game 7 against the Florida Panthers to send the Devils into the Eastern Conference Semifinals where they will meet the Philadelphia Flyers. It will be the first time the Devils have played in the Conference Semifinals since 2007.
Adam Henrique was a big story for this year's Devils as he filled in for Travis Zajac, who was injured for most of the season. Henrique, who centered star wingers Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk for the majority of the year, wound up with 51 points during the season. In fact, he was one of the three nominations for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's best rookie. After Zajac returned late in the year, the Devils moved Henrique to the third line with Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson for the playoffs. While the line was quiet for most of the series, Henrique scored two goals in game 7 and his wingers assisted on his overtime winner.
The Devils controlled the game for the first two periods as they had a 2-0 lead heading into the third period. Like in game 6, however, they would blow the two goal advantage as the Panthers tied it up after two power play goals. Florida was strong in the third, especially, as they outshot the Devils 19-6.
Game 7 was basically indicative of the whole series as it was back and forth with no lead being safe. Really, what more could you ask of from a game 7?
The Panthers were obviously a good test for the Devils as the series could have gone either way. With that said, they will now face a step up in competition as their Atlantic Division rival Philadelphia Flyers (led by superstar Claude Giroux) could be the favorites in the Eastern Conference after they eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games in the first round. It will certainly not be easy for the Devils. They will need goalie Martin Brodeur to be as sharp as he was tonight all series long. If he is indeed on his "A game," the Devils could have a shot at the upset.
Michael Pellegrini has been a fan of the New Jersey Devils since the mid to late 1990s when they had players like Doug Gilmour and Dave Andreychuk in the later stages of their career.