Let’s start with the pre-game coverage because it bothered me. Before we even get to the broadcast, NBC cuts to an interview between Salvador and Brian Engblom and all he’s interest is the team’s mindset now that Parise is in Minnesota. In fact, according to Engblom, the Devils have remained intact from last season except for the departure of Zach Parise. No mention of Sykora and Ponikarovsy who were both very important to this team one season ago. What a terrible interview on the part of NBC. After a brief studio segment, we make it to the start of the Devils and Flyers. I’ve sat through a bunch of NBC broadcasts so far this season, all of which were home openers and this Devils game has been the ONLY one where NBC didn’t broadcast the player introductions. BIG TIME FAIL on the part of NBC but why should I be surprised?
Now, to the game and just like that, the Devils find the back of the net. Bryce Salvador did everything he was supposed to and put the puck on net from the point. In typical Bryzgalov fashion, at least against NJ, he put out a nice juicy rebound which Zajac, streaking out in front all alone, put into a net that was wide open for his second of the year. Through the first 4 periods of the season, Zajac is definitely quieting the critics about his big, long-term contract.
The Flyers seemed to settle down a bit and took control of the game, which is being played at a high tempo. The Flyers were skating a little faster, getting to the puck quicker and appeared to be knocking on the doorstep. Unfortunately for them, that doorstep belonged to the one and only Marty Brodeur. Hartnell had a couple of good chances that were denied. The Flyers came away with two power plays in the first period but NJ shut them down.
At the end of the first, the Flyers took a bad interference penalty. The Flyers have struggled on the penalty kill so far this season and their struggles would continue as David Clarkson would get his second of the year.
Period Over – Devils up 2-0. Biggest stat of the first period: Flyers hold NJ to 3 shots on goal but find themselves down 2-0.
They say that coaches hate goals scored early on in a period and late in a period. Well, the Devils had one of each in the first, how would the second period go? 1:39 into the period, a Zidlicky penalty would lead to a power play for Philly. Unfortunately for Philly, this would be a power play against NJ. Picking up right where they left off last season, Kovalchuk gets the puck on a breakaway for a chance at a shorthanded goal but gets hooked from behind. In the resulting Penalty Shot, Kovalchuk beats Bryzgalov up high for his first of the season, a shorthanded penalty shot. FYI, Kovalchuk is now 3 for 4 in penalty shots that count (not counting that skills crap to decide games).
Things would then get a little chippy. Clarkson steamrolled Timmonen at center ice which would start a scrum. In fact, 3 Flyers went after Clarkson and the hit was nothing but clean. A few minutes later, Schenn would put a huge hit on Volchenkov and then immediately after that, Simmons made deliberate contact with Marty following a save. Now this is Devils / Flyers rivalry hockey.
At the end of the 2nd, the Devils would get a 5 on 3 opportunity that could really decide the game. Unfortunately the start of the 5 on 3 was very sloppy but they did regroup and get a couple of opportunities but nothing came of it. The final :30 seconds of the period saw the Flyers starting to buzz but the clock ran out before they could do anything with it.
The third period was kind of quiet offensively. The Devils got a few chances on the power play but nothing came of it. Toward the end of the period, things got a little chippy again. First Salvador put Talbot on the ice for being too chippy and then Clarkson took on Simmons and did a great job.
Schenn and Bernier got into it as well.
In the end, Marty gets his 120th shutout of his career, 10th against the Flyers. Devils improve to 2-0 while the Flyers drop to 0-3.
– Throughout the game I was questioning if the Devils could play strong for the entire 60 minutes and the answer to that would be a big fat yes.
– The Devils continue to get under the skin of the Flyers and we witnessed a lot of frustration on the part of the Flyers which led to a couple of power play opportunities.
– Marty looked fantastic. In fact, I think I am going to start campaigning for more 48 game seasons if this is the Marty we get when the season starts in January.
– The first goal by Zajac was more of what made the Devils so successful last spring. Quick little flips of the puck followed by the winning of the battles in the corners which lead to great chances and finding a way to finish those chances.
– Matteau continues to impress me. True, he hasn’t put a puck in the net but he’s close and he’s working hard.
– The defense looks great and while I hate the decision to keep sitting Larsson, he’s not really needed at this point.
– Was a little disappointed that Janssen was kept on the bench so much, especially when Simmons needed to be taught a lesson. What exactly is Janssen’s place here if he’s not going to get out there to rough a guy up?
– While the shot totals eventually piled up, what will be lost in the recaps is that NJ was up 3-0 on just 5 shots on goal.
– Overall, it was a great effort from start to finish. Devils get a couple of days to feel good about this one before they get a shot at Adam Oates and his Capitals on Friday.
Throughout the game, a couple of us on twitter were joking around with #PariseNJDrinkingGame but honestly, let the Parise storyline die. NBC refused to let it die and kept bringing up. With the exception of Brodeur and maybe Stevens, the Devils have always been more about the front of the jersey than the back. Parise is gone, it’s fine and the Devils will be just fine without him. Let the storyline die.