The Matchup: (7) Philadelphia Flyers at the (2) New Jersey Devils. The puck is set to drop at 7:30pm. Watch it on MSG+
The Season Recap: This is one season series the Devils and their fans would like to forget. The Flyers finished 5-1-0 against the Atlantic Division Champions this season. This is the first time that the Flyers won five games against the Devils since the 1988-89 season. Forward Claude Giroux and defenseman Chris Pronger tied for the team-lead against New Jersey with 7 points apiece. Devils forward Patrik Elias led the Devils in scoring against Philadelphia with 2 goals and 5 points, but Brodeur was 1-4-1 with a 3.34 goals-against average.
The Big Story: This will be the fourth time the Devils and Flyers have met in the postseason. The Devils beat the Flyers in 1995 (a look back here) and 2000 (a look back here) Eastern Conference Finals en route to capturing the Stanley Cup both times and lost to the Flyers in 2004 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Tonight’s Objective: Play hard, stay out of the box and play to win. It really is that simple.
Play Hard: I know I brought it up many times throughout the season and I am sure AJ has too but the Devils need to play a full 60 minutes tonight. Don’t take a shift or two off because the Flyers have the firepower to make you pay for that. Chris Pronger certainly made his presence known on the ice this season against the Devils. As I mentioned above, he was tied for the team-lead in points against NJ this season. On top of that, he avaraged almost 26 minutes of ice time and while he is known for being cheap at times, he’s also an incredible defenseman. If NJ wants to get to Boucher, they will certainly have to go through Pronger to do so.
Stay Out of the Box: This one is simple, the Flyers had the 3rd best Powerplay percentage in the league. Keeping their power play units off the ice is a must.
Play To Win: The 2009 series against the Carolina Hurricanes is a distant memory. I know a lot of people bring it up, (hey I just did!!) but the Devils know what they did wrong in that series and they shouldn’t be looking back at it. This is a very different team, with different players and coaches. Jaques Lemaire is a great coach who manages to get the absolute most out of all his players. Each player on the ice has to know what their job is tonight and execute the plan exactly as Lemaire has laid it out for them.
I am trying not to pay too much attention to the hype behind Kovalchuk and the playoffs. He’s never won a game in the postseason but he’s only played 4 games total. This Devils team is a much more talented team than the 2007 Thrashers were so that whole storyline isn’t a big deal to me. I do want Kovalchuk to succeed and I am hoping for all those who don’t understand why we brought him to NJ will see what exactly the big deal is in this series.
Did you know that the Boucher v Brodeur matchup in net is a rematch of the 2000 Conference Finals? I bet no one dreamed up this matchup back in October when Ray Emery was playing lights out hockey!
Lines: The Flyers love the physical stuff and the Devils will have to put a little beef into their lineup tonight. For me, that beef comes in the form of PLx3.
Zach Parise – Travis Zajac – Dainius Zubrus
Ilya Kovalchuk – Patrik Elias – Jamie Langenbrunner
Brian Rolston – Rob Niedermayer – David Clarkson
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond – Dean McAmmond – Rod Pelley
Paul Martin – Martin Skoula
Colin White – Mike Mottau
Andy Greene – Bryce Salvador
So here we go… The journey to capture the 2010 Stanley Cup has officially begun!! Check back tonight during the game or if you can’t get to the site, find us on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/rwtdblog