1999-00 Season Recap
With most of the so-called hockey experts predicting a Stanley Cup win by a Western Conference powerhouse like St. Louis, Dallas and Colorado in 2000, the New Jersey Devils were all but written off before the playoffs even began. And rightfully so. For one, they had no big-name scorer to grab the limelight. No Brett Hull. No Joe Sakic. No Peter Forsberg. And secondly, head coach Robbie Ftorek was fired with just eight games remaining in the regular season, giving way to Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Robinson.
Can a team possibly come together under a new coach in just eight games? When you've got crafty veterans like Scott Stevens and Claude Lemieux, and one of the top goaltenders in the world in Martin Brodeur, the answer is yes.
As evidenced by his gaudy 1.24 goals against average in the Finals, Brodeur was stunning at times, but rarely had to be as the strong defensive corps led by Stevens and Scott Niedermayer kept shots on goal to a minimum. On the offensive end, 6'3” winger Jason Arnott and the highly underrated European duo of Petr Sykora and Patrik Elias provided the scoring punch. But it was team captain Stevens who was the real backbone of the team, buzzing around the ice each game looking for someone to hit and capturing the Conn Smythe Award (for playoff MVP) in the process.
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