- Pierre LeBrun, NHL
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So the sense of humor is alive and well after two season-saving victories.
"I wasn't born yet, but thanks," Lamoriello chuckled in an interview Sunday with ESPN.com.
Lamoriello's Devils are only halfway toward matching the 1942 Leafs, the only team in NHL history to win the Cup after falling behind 3-0 in the finals. It doesn't get any tougher than trying to stave off elimination yet again Monday night in a tough barn in Los Angeles, where the Kings you know will be intent to finally wrap this up in front of their home fans after two failed attempts against the pesky Devils.
And yet, there's an aura of calmness around these Devils. You could sense it Saturday night in their 2-1 win. From head coach Pete DeBoer to 40-year-old netminder Martin Brodeur, there was never a sense of panic, even when down 3-0. Just go about your business and see what happens.
That mantra, of course, starts at the top with the veteran GM who exudes poise and confidence. Lamoriello, it goes without saying, is hardly surprised his team has come back to make this a series, despite the massive odds against them when they were down 3-0.
"That's been the approach the whole season," said Lamoriello. "The demeanor of the whole coaching staff has been exceptional."
"Right off the bat, you start off with Zajac gone and so forth, Tallinder, we can go through the whole litany of injuries that every team has, but it's how you handle them," he said. "There are certain unique things that happen that don't even come to the forefront that you know are there. All year long, everyone has just overcome that, not let that get in the way of what has to be done. Even finding ourselves down, no one will let anything get in the way. Just play and let the end result take care of itself. Don't worry about what's going on in the world."
They've been behind in each series this spring and found a way to come back. That gives the GM the confidence his team is never out of it.
"That's the feeling this team has given all year long," said Lamoriello. "No matter what the situations have been. We went into a tough series with Florida, I mean, let's not sidestep that. We had to win the last two, the last one on the road with a very inspirational team. We had to change our game going into Philly because of them coming off the Pittsburgh series. So the adjustments were made by the coaching staff and the players responded. And the Rangers series is as emotional a series you're going to find; on the ice and off the ice. You know what that was like."
But down 3-0 in the Cup finals? That's taking adversity to whole other level.
"Los Angeles playing as well as they did, especially on the road, and we lose the first two at home," said Lamoriello. "And yet, those could have gone either way. This is a series where we could have been [up] 3-0. We weren't, we were 0-3. But you can't think like that. We're just taking it as it comes and that's what is happening right now. There's nothing to get excited about. We're down a game in a seven-game series. We're in it. And we have to just stay focused on what has to be done."
You'll never shake that confidence that Lamoriello has in his boys. Of course, just like Detroit GM Ken Holland felt that same way about his team all those years Nicklas Lidstrom patrolled the Red Wings' blue line, Lamoriello once again is seeing Brodeur step up on the big stage in these finals.
"Yeah, well, that's Marty," Lamoriello said. "There's hope for you and I to show that age is just a number."
Brodeur's poise and experience is once again coming to the forefront. The rest of the team is feeding off it.
"I think his demeanor shows at different points in a game. It doesn't change," said Lamoriello. "When there was the scrum in front of the net and he had his helmet off, his shift off, and he's talking to the official and he's smiling. That's what you have to do. You have to keep that composure so that you don't get distracted. You can't let emotion control you. You just can't. That's one of the attributes he's always had."
And about those '42 Leafs?
"Right now we're not thinking about that, we're just worried about going into L.A. and playing a game," said Lamoriello. "The rest will take care of itself."
Even with the talk of the 1942 Leafs echoing in their ears, the aura of calmness exuded by the Devils starts at the top with GM Lou Lamoriello, writes Pierre LeBrun.