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 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.
In the first, 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.
Where the Devils’ attempt will take them is not known. But it has been stirring for Resch, as well as the current team, which will play Game 6 tonight in Los Angeles.
“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 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, and then blew the door open in the third, en route to a 4-0 win.
Resch said a major factor in being able to come back from such a deficit is believing 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. The 2-1 win in Game 5 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 game winner by Bryce Salvador went in off a Kings defenseman.
“What I see is a psychological turning,” Resch said, “with one team saying we might have lost it, and the other team thinking ‘Boys, not only is Lady Luck and all those other unseen things on our bench, but she’s brought along a few friends with her.’ Not that it’s not going to turn again, but I think the Devils have a big psychological edge.”