Well it's been a great season, and the sting of being swept has been dulled by the fact that nobody else could beat Pittsburgh, either.
So why do I keep thinking about New Jersey?
The Canes did eliminate the Devils in a grueling 7 game series. In fact, the last two goals were scored in the final 80 seconds of game time, making the comeback all the more unusual.
At the time, of course, the players talked about focusing on Boston. No one would have been content with just beating the Devils. There was more work to be done.
So how come, for me, it felt so GOOD?
I've been a Hartford/Carolina fan for a long time. I remember watching two devastating game 7 losses to the Montreal Canadiens...1986 and 1992. Then there were the Boston losses.
Those series broke me up inside. But 2000-2001 just made me angry. A slowly-percolating anger that only grew with time. The New Jersey Devils.
The attitude. The dirty hits. The cockiness. The injuries. The disrespect.
Before 2000-2001 I'd barely cared if the New Jersey Devils existed. Afterwards, after seeing Stevens' play, his callous attitude, Brodeur's sneering, Willis and Francis hurt badly...I hated that team with a passion.
I can only speak for myself...but ever since that year I have enjoyed beating NJ more than any other team. In 2002 the Canes went to the Cup finals, beating nemesis Montreal in the process, and I still felt best about the surprise upset of New Jersey.
In 2006, the Cup was ours, after another pasting of Montreal, but its the Devils series that I still replay on tape over and over, especially game 1 and game 5. Why do I still get a bizarre satisfaction out of watching the Devils dejected faces?
Now, 2009, another great playoff run...and another elimination of New Jersey. The smile on my face the day after Game 7! The way I floated through the next day. Why do I feel this way?
I don't know. All I know is that I dislike Detroit, I dislike Montreal, I dislike the Pens for sweeping the Canes this year.
But I hate New Jersey.
Tell me about how the Capitals are enemy #1. Tell me about rivalries with the Florida Panthers or Tampa Bay Lightning.