The Eastern Conference Semifinals are upon us and your New Jersey Devils are gearing up for their match-up with the Philadelphia Flyers. With the series set to begin on Sunday, April 29, the Devils will have a short rest coming off their double-overtime victory over Florida early Friday morning. The series promises big hits, great saves, and a whole lot of trash talk.
Who: The sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils will take on the fifth-seeded Philadelphia Flyers. The Devils finished the regular season with 102 points, just one behind the Flyers. The last time New Jersey knocked the Flyers out of the playoffs, Bill Clinton was President and a gallon of gas was just $1.51. Yep, you guessed it. The year was 2000 and the Devils were on their way to a Stanley Cup victory. Down 3-1 in the series, New Jersey rallied to beat the Flyers in seven games and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Season Series: New Jersey faired pretty well against the Flyers this season. Technically, the Flyers won the series with a record of 3-2-1 (7 points), while the Devils went 3-3-0 (6 points). The Flyers outscored New Jersey by a tally of 18-15 in the regular season.
Do I Smell Stanley Cup: This will definitely be an interesting series. If New Jersey is able to knock off the Flyers in the second round, the Devils will have a lot of momentum heading in to the Eastern Conference Finals. Both of these teams are just 12 wins away from winning it all.
Key Players: Martin Brodeur will be huge for the Devils this round. Brodeur went 1-3 against the Flyers this year, but posted an impressive 2.26 GAA and .905 SV%. Marty picked up career win number 650 against the Flyers on March 11, a game that I was in attendance for. Ilya Kovalchuk now knows what has to be done in order to win a playoff series; look for Kovy to step up big in the second round. On the opposite side of the puck, Claude Giroux will play an important role for the Flyers in the Semifinals. Giroux is coming off a fantastic series against the Pittsburgh Penguins and is for sure one of the top players in the NHL. Does Martin Brodeur have enough to stop Giroux and his top-line buddies?
Prediction: I went 2-for-3 in my predictions last round. I said that Adam Henrique would be a key player for the Devils and he ended up with two goals in Game Seven. I also said that the Devils and Flyers would meet in the Conference Semifinals. However, my predicted “sweep” of the Florida Panthers wasn’t so great, so I will try to be a bit more realistic this time around. Devils in six. New Jersey wins G1, G3, G4, and G6; with that, the Devils will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers.
Above: New Jersey’s Ilya Kovalchuk fights Brayden Schenn during a scrum that followed Zac Rinaldo’s dangerous trip of Zach Parise. (Photo by Eric Hartline/US Presswire)
Make sure you follow the @RWTDblog staff on twitter: @RealScottRobb, @DEVIN88MATTERA, and @Rvaidya33. Check us out on facebook, too. If you haven’t already, check out our photo gallery of highs and lows from round one of the playoffs. I will see YOU at Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at the Prudential Center on May 6 at 7:30 PM. LET’S GO DEVILS!