May 2, 2023 -NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The New Jersey Devils surprised a lot of hockey experts this past season in going from an NHL also-ran to one of the top teams in the league.
The Devils unleashed another stunner to open the playoffs against their river-rival New York Rangers — 22-year-old Swiss goaltender Akira Schmid.
Schmid rebounded from his only bad game and made 31 saves in Game 7 to lead the Devils to a 4-0 victory over the Rangers on Monday night in an wildly entertaining series.
“We believe in each other,” Devils captain Nico Hischier said. “We knew even last year didn’t go our way, lots of injuries, we have a good group here. We got a lot of good characters here. We’re a team that plays with a lot of speed and it’s hard to handle if you do that.”
Coming off a franchise best 52-win season, the Devils will open the Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday against the Metropolitan Division-winning Hurricanes in Raleigh, North Carolina. Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is on Friday night.
The major reason the Devils advanced was Schmid, who had had played in a total of 24 regular season games over the last two seasons.
After New York had a pair of 5-1 wins in the opening two games in New Jersey against starter Vitek Vanecek, Devils coach Lindy Ruff switched to Schmid and the youngster was unbelievable.