The New Jersey Devils will be making their fifth appearance in the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday, as their surprising run through the playoffs continues. In their glory days, from 1995 to 2003, when they made their previous Stanley Cup finals appearances, they were led by their incredible group of defensemen and, of course, Martin Brodeur (some things never change). But who led those teams in scoring? This year, Ilya Kovalchuk has a chance to break the club record, as he now leads the NHL in playoff scoring, with 18 points on seven goals and 11 assists. Zach Parise is second on the team with 14 points (seven goals, seven assists). Here are the Top 5 Devils' single-season playoff scorers. (And for the record, the franchise made the playoffs once before moving to New Jersey, when the Colorado Rockies qualified for the postseason in 1978, losing to the Flyers, two games to none, with the leading scorers being Dave Hudson and Andy Spruce who each notched two points.)
5. Patrik Sundstrom 1988/Patrik Elias, 2000, 20 Points (7 Goals): In the Devils' sixth season in New Jersey, they qualified for the playoffs for the first time and made it all the way to the Wales Conference finals, where they fell to the Bruins in seven games (best remembered for coach Jim Schoenfeld's "Have another doughnut!" rant at referee Don Koharski), after ousting the Capitals and Islanders. Sundstrom, in his first season with New Jersey after being traded from the Canucks, led the team in postseason scoring, with seven goals and 13 assists, and was a plus-7, after recording 51 points in the regular season (15 goals, 36 assists). Twelve years later, Elias led the NHL in playoff assists in 2000, with 13, and the then-24-year-old added seven goals, for 20 points. Elias was a plus-9, as the team defeated the Stars to win the Cup, and beat the Flyers, Maple Leafs and Panthers along the way, as Larry Robinson replaced Robbie Ftorek with eight games left in the season. Elias led the Devils in goals (35) and points (72) during the regular season.
4. Jason Arnott, 2000, 20 Points (8 Goals): Arnott also piled up 20 points in 2000, but he scored eight goals, and was a plus-7, in his first stint with New Jersey. He set career highs for himself in playoff points and assists that season, while also netting eight goals the following year. During the regular season, Arnott scored 22 goals, with 34 assists, for 56 points.
3. Stephane Richer, 1995, 21 Points: The former and future Canadien helped the Devils win their first Cup (and his second, after winning one with Montreal in '86) by scoring six goals and adding 15 assists in 19 games (and was a plus-9), as New Jersey swept the Red Wings in the finals after dispatching the Flyers, Penguins and Bruins in the first three rounds. Richer was the leading scorer on the Jacques Lemaire-led Devils during the shortened regular season, scoring 23 goals in 45 games, with 16 assists, for 39 points.
2. Petr Sykora, 2001, 22 Points: In his first go 'round with New Jersey, Sykora notched career highs in goals, assists and points in the playoffs and the regular season in '00-'01. In 25 postseason games, he scored 10 goals, recorded 12 assists, for 22 points, and he led the NHL in plus/minus in the postseason, at plus-15, as the Devils just fell short of the Cup, losing to the Avalanche in seven games (after beating the Penguins, Maple Leafs and Hurricanes). He was third on the team in points in the regular season, with 81 (35 goals, 46 assists).
1. Patrik Elias, 2001, 23 Points: It's only fitting that the franchise leader in goals, assists and points hold this honor as well. Elias' nine goals, 14 assists, 23 points and plus-11 mark were all career highs, as were his 40 goals, 56 assists and 96 points in the regular season, and his career-best plus-45 led the NHL that year.