Watching the New Jersey Devils attempt to become the first team in seven decades to come back from a 3-0 deficit in the Stanley Cup Final is causing Glenn “Chico’’ Resch to have flashbacks.
Before you get too excited: Resch wasn’t a member of the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, the only team in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup after trailing, 3-0. But he knows about coming back from big deficits in the playoffs, and is seeing it again in the New Jersey’s series with the Los Angeles Kings.
A former Devils goaltender who is now their television analyst, Resch was a member of the New York Islanders in 1975, when the team was involved in two series in which they trailed by three games.
In the NHL quarterfinals, the Islanders rallied from the brink of elimination and won four straight against the Pittsburgh Penguins, including a 1-0 win in Game 7 on a goal by Ed Westfall. Right after that, the team lost the first three games to the defending champion Philadelphia Flyers, tied the series, and then lost Game 7.
Following a 2-1 win Saturday night in Newark, the Devils boarded a plane for Los Angeles. Game 6 is Monday night at Staples Center.
“I have been walking with the Devils in this series, not so much physically, but psychologically,’’ Resch said Sunday. “This series has flipped. When you come back from 0-3, which doesn’t happen very often, things have to happen. You have to be as good as the team you are playing. They can’t be better than you. If they are better, they are going to have the ability to turn it on and you are just not going to be able to handle them.’’
Resch believes little separates the Devils and Kings this series, and both teams know it.
Three of five games have been decided by one goal, and a fourth was a two-goal margin because of an empty-net tally. The only blowout was Game 3 in Los Angeles, when the Kings beat New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur with a controversial goal early en route to a 4-0 win.
Resch said a major factor in being able to come back from such a deficit is believing that it can be done.
“One of the parts of belief,’’ Resch said, “is that when you start getting breaks or the other team starts to look a little bit nervous, a psychological switch seems to go on. And that’s what I am watching now.’’
Resch said the Devils’ 3-1 win in Game 4 showed them that the Kings weren’t invincible. Saturday’s win showed the team might be destined.
Not only did the Devils get the goals, they also got the breaks.
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick made a rare mistake while handling the puck to set up the game’s first goal by Zach Parise, and the winner by Bryce Salvador went in off a Kings defenseman.
But the fact remains that the Kings still have two chances to win their first Stanley Cup. And Staples Center will be rocking Monday night for a team that still dictated large pockets of play in Game 5. It just didn’t get credit for it in the end.
To a man, the Kings downplayed feeling any added pressure after losing two games in a row in the postseason for the first time this year.
“I don’t think we have any doubt,’’ defenseman Drew Doughty said Sunday. “We never thought that it was going to be easy. We never thought we were going to win four in a row. We expected a long series like this.’’