The New Jersey Devils had the game on their sticks more than a few times Wednesday night in Game 1 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals but, aside from a lucky bounce off of Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov, they had little to show for it in a 2-1 overtime loss marred by a clumsy defensive mix-up and a bunch of missed nets.
However, head coach Peter DeBoer was not acting as though his team deserved to win. Quite the opposite.
"You know, it would have been nice to get a bounce. But I don't believe we deserved to win tonight. That's the bottom line."
He added that, while the defensive mix-up that caused the game was not his team's best moment.
"We're playing to win the game. I don't make any apologies for that. You know, we made a mistake. They capitalized."
The problem, of course, was that the Devils made a lot of key mistakes throughout this game that they very well could have stolen from Los Angeles Wednesday night. Considering L.A. remains an undefeated 9-0 on the road this post-season, every win you can get against them is a steal at this point. The Devils had a chance to get the winning goal at a few points throughout the third and overtime, as well as a myriad of mistakes early on.
David Clarkson missed the net on two clear chances in the first period on solid passing plays. Zach Parise, in a desperation move, swept the puck into the net with his glove while prone in the third period. Mark Fayne missed a golden rebound opportunity in overtime with what was almost a sure thing had he gotten the shot off cleanly. Ilya Kovalchuk had open chances in overtime and went for deflections and rebounds instead of attempting a straight shot of the puck.
The winner of Game 1 in the Stanley Cup Finals has won 55 of the last 72 Stanley Cups. Despite two of the last three winners having lost the opener (Pittsburgh, 2009; Boston, 2011), that's still a 76.4 percent efficiency rating up against New Jersey.
Coach DeBoer remains optimistic, however, and he has a little bit of recent history to back it up.
"The good news is we started in the same hole against Philly, we started in the same hole against the Rangers. We responded to the situation in the right way the last two rounds, and I expect the same.