1. Chris Pronger’s PP Goal
The Devils had controlled most of the first period, and they only took one penalty. The Flyers powerplay can be dangerous, and they showed their skill at 9:25 in the second period. With Dainius Zubrus in the box for hooking, Simon Gagne controlled the puck near the goal line. Gagne sent the puck on net, where Martin Brodeur made the initial save. The rebound came to the front of the crease, where Pronger took a backhanded whack at the puck. It bounced off Brian Rolston and into the net for Pronger’s first goal of the playoffs.
Coach Jacques Lemaire put the blame squarely on Rolston for the goal.
“The thing is Rollie went on the wrong side of Pronger,” Lemaire said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “That’s why he lost the puck. It’s little details when you get in front of the net. It’s all little details. You’ve got to be on the strong side of a player if you want to be able to control him and control the puck when the puck comes.”
2. Mike Richards’ Goal
After the powerplay goal, the Flyers seemed to find their game. They locked down the Devils’ defensively, and they seemed to tilt the momentum in their favor. Richards scored the eventual game-winning goal at 16:57 of the second period. Ian Laperriere created the scoring chance, blocking a clearing attempt by Martin Skoula. Laperriere carried the puck into the Devils’ zone, and sent a spinning, 360 pass to Richards. Richards took a slapshot from the low slot that Brodeur seemed to get a piece of. The puck hit the cross bar and caromed over the line for Richards first goal of the postseason.
3. Flyers Penalty Kill of Oskars Bartulis’ Double Minor
With the Devils down by two goals, Philadelphia gave them a gift-wrapped opportunity to get back into the game. Bartulis hit David Clarkson with a high stick, drawing blood and receiving a four-minute double minor. But the Devils’ powerplay, which struggled all night, couldn’t find a way to set up the powerplay. The Flyers controlled the kill throughout, not allowing the Devils to get set. In four minutes, the Devils only created two scoring chances, and both weren’t anything great. That kill, which began at 2:12 of the period, set the tone for the majority of the period.
Biggest Non-Call: Too Many Men on Richards’ Goal
After watching a replay of the Richards goal, I noticed something – the Flyers had too many men on ice. Richards jumped off the bench and went to play the puck while Blair Betts was still on the ice. It was a very quick play, but these are the types of non-calls that can affect the outcome of the game. If the Devils got the call, the goal would have never been scored, and the result may be different. But, the play occurred without a whistle, and Richards went on to score the goal.
Biggest Save: Brian Boucher Stones Ilya Kovalchuk
The Devils really owned the first period of play, creating chances and putting the Flyers on their heels. If not for the play of Boucher, the Devils may have been up big after the period. The most important save of the game came early in the first period. Zubrus chased a loose puck down in the Flyers zone, and skated out from around behind the net. He sent a pass to the front, which was knocked down near the net. The puck sat between the hash marks, and Kovalchuk let go a wrister. Boucher picked up the puck through a screen and made a glove save, keeping the game scoreless.
Things I Liked:
1. Kovalchuk – I know the Devils lost tonight, but one bright spot was the play of Kovalchuk. Some maythink it was a bit excessive, and at times he was a bit of a puck hog. But he created five scoring chances himself by the middle of the second period. He was moving out there, and he never gave up on the play. His effort tonight was solid. Kovalchuk was able to play against any line combination the Flyers brought out to oppose him. He didn’t get on the scoresheet, but if he keeps playing this way, he should have a great series.
2. Travis Zajac
The young guys kept playing, and Zajac was one of the big reasons the Devils stayed competitive. Not only did he score the Devils lone goal, but he played pretty well near the end of the game. Zajac is coming off a pretty successful regular season, and I’d expect to see him continue that play in this series.
Things That Annoyed Me:
1. Daniel Carcillo
The Flyers winger always seems to annoy me, but for some reason he reached Sean Avery level tonight in my book. I guess I just don’t like him very much.
2. The Non-Call On Pronger’s High Hit
I understand that the stripes can’t catch every single penalty in every game. But, when Pronger cross-checks Zach Parise to the back of the head, they should make the call. As you can see from the image below, Pronger came up high with a hit. It literally took off Parise’s helmet. While the penalty looks obvious, the refs missed this blatant penalty. Once again, it may be an insignificant play. But the refs need to make consistent calls, and letting something like this slide will not get it done in the playoffs.
Parise would not comment on the hit.
“I don’t know,” Parise said to Gulitti. “It’s not my position to call it, but I have no idea if it should have been or not.”
3. The Devils O-fer On The Powerplay
The Devils had five opportunities with the man advantage. And, you know what they did with those five opportunities? Left them all on the table. The Devils couldn’t get anything going with the man advantage. It literally looked terrible. It was so futile that, by the end of the game, I just counted any powerplay chance a notch in the “successful PK” column for the Flyers. If the Devils are going to win this series, they need to get something done on the powerplay. The Flyers handed them opportunities to get back into this game, but the Devils’ powerplay looked flat all night. It should be something they work on tomorrow and Friday during practice.
Game two will be Friday at 7:30 p.m.
All photos courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images