As the first game of their playoff series looms, we here at Running With The Devils are going to break down the matchup between the Flyers and the Devils. In the first installment of this series, we’ll take a look at the forwards for both teams.
Overall, the Flyers ranked eighth in goals and 11th in assists. Their specialty teams are explosive, ranking second in powerplay goals and third in powerplay assists. The Flyers forwards are a dangerous bunch, but if the Devils can shut down their top guy, they should be able to manage playing against them.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils scored 22 goals fewer than the Flyers this season, but it doesn’t mean the team’s scorers can’t do some damage. The acquisition of Ilya Kovalchuk seemed to pay off, as the Devils newest left- winger contributed 10 goals and 27 assists. He instantly updated the powerplay, and those assists show he’s willing to make the sacrifices necessary to get the goal. Zach Parise, who finished with 38 goals and 88 points, is another talented forward. Whether chasing down a loose puck or putting home a one-timer, he hustles during every shift. And these aren’t the only two bright spots. Players like Travis Zajac (25 goals, a new career high), Jamie Langenbrunner, and Patrik Elias are always dangerous.
One of the keys to the offense will be secondary scoring. We all know the top two lines can produce. But who will come up clutch? Can David Clarkson continue to improve? Will Rob Niedermayer and Dean McAmmond contribute anything offensively? Can Brian Rolston find his goal scoring touch? In the playoffs, these “role” players are usually the ones that make an impact. I think the Devils have more depth and more role players who can score these key goals.
Here’s the stat line: the Devils ranked 19th in the league in goals and 17th in assists this past season. The powerplay, while not great, was better this season, tying for 21st in powerplay goals and 21st in powerplay assists. It’s not dangerous, but the Devils can do some damage with their special teams.
So, overall, who owns the advantage. I think the teams are almost dead even, but I give the Devils a slight nod. I think the ability to run out two great scoring lines gives them a big advantage in the series. However, the powerplay ability of the Flyers should not be forgotten. The Devils will need to be smart, because the Flyers have the potential to put their great powerplay to work. As I said, the teams draw almost even, but in the end, I believe the Devils are a tad bit stronger.
Danny Briere Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Brian Rolston Photo Credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images