Running With The Devils - A New Jersey Devils Blog
Game Three Live Game Post: Devils, Flyers Tied, 2-2, In Overtime
Written by AJ Manderichio   
Sunday, 18 April 2010 19:00

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The Devils and Flyers are tied, 2-2, in overtime of the third game of their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series at the Wachovia Center.

Brodeur continued his strong play at net, stoning Jeff Carter at 19:27 of the period. After a shot went to the front of the net, Carter tried to stuff the puck past Brodeur. Brodeur extended the left pad and made the save, keeping the Devils in the game.

The Flyers outshot the Devils, 12-3, in the third period and lead the overall shot category, 28-18.

The Flyers have absolutely been taking it to the Devils, outshooting them, 10-1, in the third period. The Devils haven't recorded a shot on net in 10 minutes.

Brodeur has literally kept the Devils in this game. With the Devils pressing in the Flyers' zone, Scott Hartnell tipped the puck to center ice. He beat Andy Greene and moved in on Brodeur with Danny Briere on a 2-on-1. He passed the puck to Briere on the left, who let go a shot from the low left circle. Brodeur slid across the crease and made the save.

Bryce Salvador also helped on the play, getting back and putting his stick on Briere's to alter the shot.

Brodeur just became his best penalty killer, stopping three great Flyers' chances on the powerplay at 10:12 of the third period. A shot from the point was re-directed by Giroux in front, and Brodeur went to the splits to make the save. The puck then trickled to the side of the net, where Gagne took control. Brodeur, sitting on the ice, made two saves with his glove before squeezing the puck to his pads for the stoppage in play.

The Devils, so far, are only 2-for-8 with the man advantage tonight. They've only managed six shots on net with their eight opportunities.

Rolston's second powerplay goal of the game at 16:38 of the second period tied the game at two.

Kovalchuk set up along the side boards on the powerplay, where he received a pass from Elias. The left-winger sent a pass to Rolston at the point, and Rolston fired a one-timer on net. Zubrus screened Boucher, and the puck went through the skates and into the back of the net for Rolston's second powerplay tally of the game.

Mike Richards gave the Flyers an early lead, 2-1, only 1:15 into the second period. Simon Gagne went behind the net, hitting Devils' defenseman Mark Fraser and creating a turnover. Flyers' forward Daniel Carcillo took the puck and sent it towards the goal. Richards chipped the puck over Brodeur for his second goal of the series.

The Flyers outshot the Devils, 8-5, in the first period.

The first period didn't see much 5-on-5 action. The Devils went 1-for-4 with the man advantage, while the Flyers went 1-for-2.

Claude Giroux tied the game at one apiece with his powerplay goal at 8:49 in the first period. With Matt Corrente in the box for high sticking, Timonen took a shot from the left point. Giroux, who snuck behind Colin White, deflected the puck past Martin Brodeur for his second goal of the series.

Brian Rolston's first goal of the series gave the Devils an early 1-0 lead. With Kimmo Timonen in the box for hooking, Ilya Kovalchuk set up Rolston for a straight-on point shot. Rolston initially faked the pass, getting Ian Laperriere to slide down to the ice. Rolston blasted a shot low that went through a Dainius Zubrus screen and past Brian Boucher for his first goal of the series.

The Devils haven't looked good on their first two powerplay chances tonight. They aren't getting set up, and they can't get any pressure on Boucher and the defense.

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Devils:

Brian Rolston-Rob Niedermayer-Jamie Langenbrunner; Colin White-Mike Mottau;  Martin Brodeur

Flyers:

Scott Hartnell-Jeff Carter-Danny Briere; Braydon Coburn-Kimmo Timonen; Brian Boucher

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Tonight's scratches for the Devils are Jay Pandolfo, Vladimir Zharkov, Martin Skoula and Anssi Salmela

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Game three may be the penultimate game in the series for the Devils. When New Jersey wins game three, they are 13-3 all time. When they lose game three, they are 3-13.

Martin Brodeur attempts to become only the second goalie all-time to record 100 postseason victories. Patrick Roy is the all-time leader with 151 career postseason victories.

 
ECQ Game Two: Zubrus’ Late Goal Lifts Devils Over Flyers
Written by AJ Manderichio   
Friday, 16 April 2010 22:08

Tonight’s game ran me through the gamut of emotions. I went from excited to mad literally minute after minute. But the Devils never got down, and it was Mr. Dependable, Zach Parise, who helped put the Devils ahead for good. It was an exciting game, and now the Devils head to Philadelphia with the series tied, 1-1.

Key Moments:

1. Dainius Zubrus’ Game-Winning Goal

Tied at three in the third period, the Devils began to slowly put more and more pressure on the Philadelphia defense. The first line finally cashed in on the pressure, with Zubrus scoring the game-winning goal at 15:56 of the third period. Zubrus took control of the puck behind the net, and skated the puck out. He curled to the front and put a backhanded shot on Brian Boucher. The Flyers’ goalie made the initial save, but Parise and Zubrus found the puck in front. Parise used the blade of Zubrus’ stick to put the shot top-shelf for Zubrus’ first goal of these playoffs.

2. Chris Pronger’s 4-on-3 Powerplay Goal

With the Flyers down, 3-2, in the second period, Devils’ defenseman Andy Greene took an interference penalty. With Ilya Kovalchuk and Darroll Powe already in the box for roughing, the Flyers had a 4-0n-3 powerplay. With the team only 1-for-5 on the man advantage, this represented their chance to get back to even. With Greene in the box, Mike Richards and Kimmo Timonen played pitch and catch, looking for an opportunity to shoot. Timonen fired a shot from the top of the circles that Pronger deflected past Martin Brodeur for his second goal of the playoffs.

3. Brodeur Stones Ian Laperriere In The Third Period

Brodeur made a game-saving stop on Ian Laperriere at 11:10 of the third period. Daniel Carcillo stripped White of the puck in the Flyers offensive zone, and rushed up the ice. He drove the net, but his attempt was swatted away. The loose puck came to the side of the net, and Laperriere received a pass from a Flyer in front of the net. He tried to one-time the puck past Brodeur, but the Devils goalie stood tall and made the save.

4. Devils Kill Three Straight Flyers Powerplays

In the second period, the Devils faced three straight penalty-kill opportunities. It started with a minor to Greene for high-sticking, then Kovalchuk went to the box for slashing. The trip was complete when Colin White was sent off for interference. The Devils killed off all three attempts, keeping the game scoreless and shutting down a dangerous Philadelphia powerplay.

5. Zach Parise Shorthanded Tally

The Devils, who couldn’t manage to score until the third period Wednesday night, got the crucial first goal on Philadelphia’s powerplay. With Kovalchuk in the box for elbowing, Pronger attempted to pass the puck to Matt Carle. Carle couldn’t handle the pass, and fanned on a shot attempt. Patrik Elias chased down the puck and sent a saucer pass to Parise, springing him free. Parise went to the backhand, roofing the puck over Boucher for his first goal of these playoffs.

Biggest Matchup: Goaltending:

Coming into this series, I believed that Boucher was a guy who hit a hot streak but couldn’t perform under pressure. Well, count me among those fans he’s made look stupid. Boucher had another strong night, stopping 28 shots in the loss. Unlike Wednesday night, the Devils challenged Boucher, and the Flyers’ goalie answered the call. The Flyers still lost, but without Boucher in net, it would have been a 10-goal game.

Brodeur was as good as Boucher, if not better. Through two games, it seems Brodeur has his playoff legs under him. He’s been making incredible saves, including the one mentioned above. But that wasn’t his only nice save tonight. Brodeur was there to stone most of the Flyers’ great scoring chances. Two of the three goals he allowed tonight were perfect deflections on the powerplay. Other than that, he was sparkling. If Brodeur continues to play this way, he may steal this series away from the Flyers.

Things I Liked:

1. The First Two Devils Lines

Finally, Devils’ coach Jacques Lemaire put together his two best scoring lines. The ZZ Pops line has always been great, but late in the season, the Devils had something going with Elias and Zubrus playing with Parise. That first line played a great game, constantly putting pressure on the Flyers defense. It also spread the scoring down to the second line, which also looked solid. It seems Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac have developed some chemistry playing together, and I think this would be the best fit for the rest of the playoffs.

2. The Devils’ Penalty Kill

By all means, the Devils played an undisciplined game tonight. They took eight minor penalties, and it almost seemed like the teams had reversed roles from game one. The Flyers’ have an above-average powerplay, and one that can tip a series in their favor. But the Devils penalty kill made sure it didn’t, killing off six of eight penalties tonight. While you never want to see a team playing 16 minutes of shorthanded hockey, the Devils penalty kill showed today that they can potentially neutralize the Flyers’ extra-man attack.

3. Zach Parise

How could you not like the effort of Parise tonight? Not only did he score the key shorthanded goal, he always seemed to motor around the ice. He also showed a willingness to get into the dirty areas, continually crashing the net and causing problems for the Flyers defense. Every forward should take a page from his book. Get to the front of the net, and good things will happen.

Things That Annoyed Me:

1. Ilya Kovalchuk

Maybe Kovalchuk’s empty-net goal will let the left-winger unwind a bit. He allowed the Flyers to get under his skin tonight, resulting in six penalty minutes. He took several dumb penalties, and twice let the team down with his overly physical play. I know Kovalchuk wants to get out there and cause trouble, but he should stick to causing trouble with his stick. The dumb penalties can only hurt the team during the duration of the series.

2. The Borderline Calls

I wonder if the officials know it’s playoff hockey. It seemed like, in game one, the stripes missed a few obvious calls. Tonight, they seemed to go to the whistle a little too early. David Clarkson’s tripping minor wasn’t a great call, as he swept the puck away from the Aaron Asham’s skates. Also, Greene’s interference call during the 4-on-4 confused me a bit. Yes, he collided with a Flyer behind the play. But it didn’t seem like it should be enough to get a penalty. The officials need to find a happy medium between what is/what is not a penalty.

3. The Flyers’ Third Line

They just annoyed me because they played well. It was surprising to see guys like Asham and Claude Giroux making some solid offensive plays. If the Devils can’t handle these guys, then the Devils give Philadelphia another dimension of offensive firepower.

Next Game:

Game three will be Sunday at 6 p.m. in Philadelphia.

Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

 
Game Two Live Game Blog: Kovalchuk's Goal Extends Devils Lead, 5-3, In The Third Period
Written by AJ Manderichio   
Friday, 16 April 2010 20:37

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Kovalchuk's empty-net goal of the game with 32.9 seconds left in the third period extended the Devils lead over the Flyers, 5-3, in game two of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals tonight at the Prudential Center.

With Boucher on the bench for an extra attacker, Richards fanned on a shot from the point. Kovalchuk chased down the loose puck and carried it out to center ice. Jeff Carter broke his stick, and Kovalchuk sent a shot from above the blue line that went into the empty net for his first goal of these playoffs.

Parise's second goal of the game at 15:56 of the third period put the Devils ahead of the Flyers, 4-3.

The first line did a great job of pinning the Flyers in their zone. Zubrus took the puck behind the net and skated out in front. He put a backhanded shot on net, and the rebound sat near the crease. Parise put the puck top-shelf for his second goal of the game.

Brodeur made a game-saving stop of Ian Laperriere at 11:10 of the third period. Daniel Carcillo stripped White of the puck in the Flyers offensive zone, and rushed up the ice. He drove the net, but his attempt was swatted away. The loose puck came to the side of the net, and Laperriere received a pass from a Flyer in front of the net. He tried to one-time the puck past Brodeur, but the Devils goalie stood tall and made the save.

The Devils just had their best chance of the period with the third line on the ice. Dean McAmmond, Rob Niedermayer and Brian Rolston kept the pressure on, and the point shots by Andy Greene and, eventually Dainius Zubrus gave Boucher fits. But the Devils couldn't bury the puck.

So far, the Flyers have controlled the pace of play in the third period. They've already outshot the Devils, 4-0, and they've spent a considerable amount of time in the zone.

Chris Pronger's powerplay goal at 18:48 of the second period pulled the Flyers even with the Devils, 3-3.

With the team's playing 4-on-4 hockey, Greene took an interference penalty, giving the Flyers a 4-on-3 advantage. Richards and Kimmo Timonen played pitch and catch, looking for an opportunity to shoot. Timonen fired a shot from the top of the circles that Pronger deflected past Brodeur for his second goal of the playoffs.

Pronger spent considerable time in front of the net, and cut off the sightline of Brodeur.

After the Devils goal, they put some great pressure on Boucher. Boucher had to be strong, and made several nice saves on in-tight scoring attempts from the Devils.

Andy Greene's powerplay goal at 13:25 put the Devils ahead, 3-2.

With Giroux in the box for hooking, Kovalchuk controlled the puck at the point. He passed the puck to Elias, who skated near the right sideboards. The left-winger held the puck, drawing two Flyers' penalty killers towards him. Greene snuck down from the point and into the slot area, where Elias found him with a tape to tape pass. Greene one-timed a puck past Boucher for his first goal of these playoffs.

Before that goal, the Devils had to kill off three straight Flyers' powerplays. While Philadelphia almost scored on their first opportunity of the period - a two-minute minor to Andy Greene for high-sticking - they didn't get great opportunities with their other two advantages.

Kovalchuk has continually taken dumb penalties tonight. He's been very aggressive, but he's also been undisciplined. Kovalchuk was sent to the box after slashing Mike Richards at 7:54 of the period. After tangling with Darroll Powe during a false start, Powe interfered with Kovalchuk after the faceoff. Kovalchuk, clearly angered by the non-call, went after Richards, slashing him in the back of the leg and cross-checking him. While it didn't cost the Devils on the powerplay, Kovalchuk will make his impact scoring and not being a "tough guy."

The Devils tied the game at two with Colin White's second career playoff goal at 3:44 in the second period.

After taking a pass from Kovalchuk, White took a low shot from the right circle that trickled through Boucher's pads for his first goal of these playoffs. It was his first goal since scoring the only goal in a 1-0 shootout win against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2000 Eastern Conference semifinals (April 19, 2000).

The Devils outshot the Flyers, 11-7, after one period.

Claude Giroux gave the Flyers the lead, 2-1, with 4:30 in the first period.

With David Clarkson in the box for tripping, Matt Carle fired a shot from the point. Giroux deflected the puck through the pads of Brodeur for his first playoff goal this season.

That's two goals on five shots for the Flyers, but neither has truly been Brodeur's fault.

Former Devil Aaron Asham tied the game, 1-1, at 9:33 of the first period. Giroux skated from behind the net, bringing the puck to the left circle. Asham worked himself behind the Devils defense and fired the puck into the empty right-side of the net for his first goal of these playoffs.

Zach Parise gave the Devils an early lead, 1-0, with a shorthanded goal 2:45 into the game.

With Ilya Kovalchuk in the box for elbowing, Chris Pronger attempted to pass the puck to Matt Carle. Carle couldn't handle the pass, and fanned on a shot attempt. Patrik Elias chased down the puck and sent a saucer pass to Parise, springing him free. Parise went to the backhand, roofing the puck over Boucher for his first goal of these playoffs.

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Here were the starting lineups:

Flyers:

Scott Hartnell-Jeff Carter-Danny Briere; Chris Pronger-Matt Carle; Brian Boucher

Devils:

Zach Parise-Patrik Elias-Dainius Zubrus; Bryce Salvador-Martin Skoula; Martin Brodeur

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Jay Pandolfo, Rod Pelley, Vladimir Zharkov and Anssi Salmela were the healthy scratches tonight for the Devils. Matt Corrente took Pelley's position on the fourth line.

 
ECQ Game 2 Preview: Devils Look For The Equalizer
Written by Darren S   
Friday, 16 April 2010 12:59


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The Matchup: Philadelphia Flyers at the New Jersey Devils. The Flyers lead the best-of-7 series 1-0.

The Last Game: The Flyers scored first while on the power play (Chris Pronger strikes again) and then Mike Richards followed with a rocket of a slapshot that kicked off Marty's toe. The Devils got a very late goal but couldn't find the equalizer as the Flyers held on for a 2-1 win. Boucher outplayed Marty which is something very few thought he was capable of.

Tonight's Game: It's all about 2 things tonight...Momemntum and Patience. Scoring the first goal is always a stat that is heavily focused in on during this time of year but so far this season, of the 7 games played in the playoffs, the team scoring first has gone on to win 4 of those 7 games. See, it is important but not crucial to the outcome in most games. However, in the case of the Devils, scoring first tonight is crucial. Boucher had an excellant game the other night and as the shots piled on and Boucher kept coming up with the saves, his confidence grew and the momentum stayed with the Flyers, especially after the Richards bomb. The Flyers were in control of the game for most of it the other night and the Devils can't allow for that to happen tonight.

The Devils also need to be patient with the puck. There were a number of times where the Devils entered the zone and dropped the puck back to no one or to a player not quite in the zone and therefore getting called for being offsides. I thought the Devils forced some plays with the puck. Look at the Richards goal, Skoula tried to get it deep along the boards, something the Flyers protected very well the other night and ended up giving the puck to Philly. Had Skoula been a little more patient he might have seen two Devils on the blue line that would have been a better option for him.

Another example of the Devils forcing plays the other night would be the answer to the following question. How many times did they actually miss the net on a shot? It certainly seemed like a lot of the shots the Devils took were sailing wide of the goal a sure sign that they are rushing.

If the Devils would be a little more patient on the puck during their powerplay, maybe the results would be a little better. Parise complained of the puck boucing a lot the other night during the powerplays which suggests the Devils rushing passes and not getting them off cleanly. The Flyers are going to give the Devils chances on the powerplay, it's just the type of team that they are. We'll just have to wait and see if being patient is something they can do and something that changes the score. The bottom line, at least in my opinion is that NJ has never really been great on the PP. i used to joke teams would gladly take a penalty because it would take NJ out of the game for 2 mins. In my eyes, if I am relying on the Devils PP to win the game then we've got serious problems.

Bottom line is that I find this a must win game for the Devils tonight. Only once in their history have the Devils crawled out of a 2-0 hole (in the 1994 conference semifinals against Boston).

I am not going to guess at the lines this time because Lemaire switches them up during the game anyway. Instead, we'll just wait to see what we start with, which is something AJ always covers during his live blog. Be sure to check back with us tonight during the game and if you aren't following us on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/rwtdblog) please do...

 

 
Devils' Powerplay Needs To Perform To Beat The Flyers
Written by AJ Manderichio   
Thursday, 15 April 2010 20:43

Last night, the Devils showed some solid effort against the Philadelphia Flyers. They did drop game one, 2-1, but the team played well defensively and even had a solid penalty kill. But the Devils failed to do one thing: score on the powerplay. And, in this Eastern Conference quarterfinals matchup, the Devils need to score with the man advantage to beat their rivals.

One of the biggest turning points of last night’s game one loss came in the third period. The Flyers’ Oskars Bartulis received a four minute double-minor for a high stick that cut David Clarkson. The Devils, down 2-0 at the time, had a golden opportunity. If they could score at least one goal, they’d be right back in the game. The penalty, taken only 2:12 into the period, would also allow the Devils an early opportunity to get into the game.

Instead of taking advantage of the opportunity, the Devils squandered their chance. They couldn’t set up anything, and they recorded only two scoring chances the entire advantage. Their futility on that specific powerplay summed up the Devils man advantage play last night. The Devils routinely struggled to set up any offense, and they weren’t moving the puck quick enough. As a result, the Flyers were able to apply steady pressure to the powerplay unit. The penalty killers got into passing lanes and blocked several shots, frustrating the Devils scorers.

It was the Devils’ powerplay that held them back from a win last night. If it continues to struggle, the powerplay may also cost the Devils the series.

If the special teams will be a deciding factor, the Devils need to get back to basics to make it work. One of the major problems last night was the lack of puck movement. Too many times, the Devils’ powerplay got stuck depending on one man, whether it was Ilya Kovalchuk or Paul Martin at the point or the forwards down low. The team shouldn’t have a “me vs. the entire defense” mentality. If the Devils begin to move the puck, they can get the Flyers defense standing still. When a penalty-killing unit gets flat-footed, they’ll react slower. That’s exactly how the Flyers scored on their second opportunity of the night.

Moving the puck also takes away some of the Flyers’ aggressive play on the penalty kill. As I said above, one of the biggest issues last night was the aggressive play of the Flyers’ penalty killers. They had their sticks in the passing lanes, and they sacrificed the body to take away shot attempts. Their penalty killers also played physical hockey, pinning Devils’ players to the boards and giving them some hard shots. Moving the puck takes away the ability for the penalty killers to successfully pursue like they did. Instead, the Flyers penalty killers would need to stay near in their box or diamond formation. If one decided to pursue, the Devils could make that aggressive player pay with a well-timed pass.

The good news is that the Devils spent the entire practice today working on the powerplay, including how to enter the zone and set up. The extra work will, hopefully, pay off in tomorrow night’s game. The Flyers will give the Devils plenty of man-advantage opportunities. If their powerplay can rise to the occassion, the Devils can use the Flyers’ undisciplined play against them.

 
ECQ Game One: Pronger, Richards Lead Flyers Over Devils, 2-1
Written by AJ Manderichio   
Wednesday, 14 April 2010 22:32

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Well, game one of the series wasn't the best for the New Jersey Devils. The team came out strong, but the Philadelphia Flyers seemed to chip away at the Devils' home-ice momentum. The second period sunk the Devils, and it just seemed the Flyers locked down defensively after they took the lead. The Devils got back into the game late, and maybe that will continue in game two. But, no matter what the team says, they lost their home-ice advantage and head into Friday's game down 1-0 in the series.

Key Moments:

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.

Next Game

Game two will be Friday at 7:30 p.m.

All photos courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

 
Game One Live Game Blog: Zajac Puts Devils On The Board, Flyers Lead, 2-1, In Third Period
Written by AJ Manderichio   
Wednesday, 14 April 2010 18:32

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Travis Zajac'ss goal at 17:17 of the period puts cuts the Flyers lead, 2-1, in the third period of game one of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals tonight at the Prudential Center.

Andy Greene held the puck down low, and sent a pass to Zajac near the puck. The Devils center sent a shot toward the front of the net, where Parise screened Boucher. The puck hit Boucher's pads and slipped behind the goalie for Zajac's first goal of this postseason.

Chris Pronger and Mike Richards scored to put the Flyers ahead of the Devils, 2-0, in the second period.

The Flyers almost scored a second powerplay goal at 15:13 of the third period. Gagne took the puck in the offensive zone, and skated to the left circle. His wrist shot banged off the post for the near miss.

The Devils squandered an early opportunity to climb back into the game. With Oskars Bartulis in the box with a double-minor for high sticking at 2:12 of the third period, the Devils couldn't generate much offense at all. They only recorded two scoring chances, and the Flyers made the Devils powerplay unit uncomfortable the entire time. The crowd began to boo the Devils effort near the end of the man advantage.

That futile play has summed up the Devils man-advantage play tonight. They haven't been terrible, they've been awful. With the Flyers giving the Devils plenty of opportunities to get back into the game, the Devils have failed to take advantage.

It seems like Jacques Lemaire is switching the lines. Travis Zajac just centered Kovalchuk and Jamie Langenbrunner. David Clarkson had been skating with the first line of Zajac and Zach Parise earlier tonight.

The Devils' fans booed the home team as they went off the ice at the end of the period.

The Flyers outshot the Devils, 8-6, in the second period. The Devils lead the total shots category, 15-12.

Richard's goal at 16:27 of the second period extended the Flyers ahead, 2-0.

Ian Laperriere created the scoring chance, stripping Martin Skoula of the puck near the Devils zone. Laperriere carried the puck into the 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.
Pronger's powerplay goal at 9:25 of the period gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead.

With Zubrus in the box for hooking, Simon Gagne controlled the puck near the goal line. Gagne sent the puck on net, where 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.

Pronger made an important play before the goal, racing across the blue line to help his team maintain possession of the puck.

Kovalchuk is getting some great scoring chances, including his latest missed chance. Kovalchuk took the puck in the defensive zone and raced up ice. He deked around three Flyers, and found himself near the left circle. The left-winger fired the puck high over Boucher for the missed chance, and punched the glass on his way to the bench.

Kovalchuk  has created five scoring chances tonight.

After controlling the pace of the play, the Flyers have really come alive in this period. It seems like the Devils are the team on their heels, and the only one creating anything has been Kovalchuk.

While the game has been scoreless, it seems like the Devils are controlling the pace of play. They've been able to pin Philadelphia in their zone and, while the Flyers have generated some good rushes and scoring chances, the Devils look to be more in control and have set their offense in motion.

Both teams have played physical, and right now, the Devils seem to be responding positively and giving the Flyers a bit of their own medicine.

The Devils outshot the Flyers, 9-4, in the first period.

Brian Boucher made a great glove save to rob Ilya Kovalchuk. Dainius Zubrus chased the 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 in front. The puck sat between the hash marks, and Kovalchuk let go a wrister. Boucher picked up the puck through a screen and made the glove save.

The Devils had a great penalty kill, which ended at 9:52 of the period. With Bryce Salvador in the box for hooking, the Devils penalty kill unit didn't allow the Flyers to get set up. They controlled the zone, and the Devils were able to consistently send the puck down the ice. As soon as the kill ended, Zach Parise blew past Kimmo Timmonen, making the Flyers defenseman hook him and giving the Devils a man advantage.

One of the immediate themes that came from the opening minutes of play is the physical play. Both teams are throwing their weight around, and both have created turnovers and opportunities with the physical play.

********************

Here were tonight's starting lineups:

Flyers:

Simon Gagne-Mike Richards-Daniel Carcillo; Chris Pronger-Matt Carle; Brian Boucher

Devils:

Brian Rolston-Rob Niedermayer-Jamie Langenbrunner; Paul Martin-Andy Greene; Martin Brodeur

*********************

The Flyers hold the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Devils hold the second seed. The Flyers took five of six games from the Devils this season.

Martin Brodeur will start his 167th consecutive playoff game tonight. Brian Boucher will play in the postseason for the first time since 2000, his rookie season.

During pre-game warmups, Devils’ coach Jacques Lemaire hasn’t tipped his hands on the line combinations. The Devils’ have dressed 22 players, including Mark Fraser and Matt Corrente (as a forward). No one is skating on a solid line, with each player continually switching linemates.

Left winger Jay Pandolfo and defenseman Anssi Salmela, Fraser and Corrente will be healthy scratches. Andrew Peters (eye) and Vladimir Zharkov (back) are injury scratches tonight.

 
ECQ Game 1 Preview: Flyers v Devils
Written by Darren S   
Wednesday, 14 April 2010 14:42


vs


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



Martin Brodeur

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

 
Flyers vs. Devils - Battle Of The Forwards
Written by AJ Manderichio   
Wednesday, 14 April 2010 10:35

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.

Philadelphia Flyers

Injuries have cost the team several key players, mostly in net. But one of the biggest injuries came when Jeff Carter went down with injury. While he hoped to be back for the playoffs, it looks like the Flyers will be without him. Carter, who led the team in goals and finished second in points, was an absolute Devil killer this season. In five games, he recorded three goals, two of which were tying goals. He also netted six game-winning goals, and recorded 22 powerplay points. The Flyers still have explosive scorers in Mike Richards and Danny Briere. Simon Gagne has always hurt the Devils. But, after that, the performance falls off. Claude Giroux can score big goals, but he can also disappear for large stretches of time. The same can be said for rookie James van Riemsdyk.

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

 
A Look Back: The 2000 Eastern Conference Finals
Written by AJ Manderichio   
Tuesday, 13 April 2010 18:31

In anticipation of the first round series between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New Jersey Devils, we'll take a look back at the previous playoff matchups between the two rivals. Earlier today, we took a look back at the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals, which the Devils won, 4-2. Today, I’ll recap the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals, where a big hit changed the series and propelled the Devils to their second Stanley Cup championship.

When the regular season ended, Philadelphia sat atop the Atlantic Division, with 105 points. The Devils finished only two points behind the Flyers, meaning the fourth seed in the conference. Six games before the season ended, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello decided to fire coach Rob Ftorek, electing to go with Larry Robinson to coach the team in the postseason. Philadelphia defeated Buffalo and Pittsburgh to reach the finals, and the Devils swept Florida and defeated Toronto. The teams would face each other again for a chance to play for Lord Stanley’s Cup.

In the opening game, Martin Brodeur stopped 35 shots, turning in an outstanding performance. Bobby Holik and Petr Sykora scored within a minute of each other in the third period, extending the Devils lead to 4-1. The team would go on to win Game 1 in Philadelphia, mirroring their 1995 opening game performance.

In game two, the Devils jumped out to a 3-2 lead. The series began to look eerily similar to 1995, with the Flyers losing both home games to fall into a 2-0 hole. But Rich Tocchet and Daymond Langkow scored goals in the third period to put the Flyers ahead, 4-2. Brian Boucher looked strong in net, stopping 30 shots and sending the series to the Meadowlands tied, 1-1.

It seemed Tocchet and Langkow turned the series, because game three was all Philadelphia. The Flyers defeated the Devils, 4-2, to take a 2-1 series lead. Game four went the same way, with the Flyers taking advantage of their opportunities. Craig Berube, who hadn’t scored in 86 playoff games, tallied a goal as the Flyers went on to defeat the Devils, 3-1. With the win, they swept the Devils on New Jersey’s home ice and went home to Philadelphia with a decisive 3-1 edge.

Facing elimination, the Devils played well in Philadelphia. The Devils jumped out a lead in the first period on a Jason Arnott goal, and never looked back. Patrik Elias, Bobby Holik and Sykora all scored in a 4-1 defeat over Philadelphia. Down in the series, 3-2, the Devils once again had life. But the odds were still against them. At the time, no team in the expansion era had ever rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the conference finals. What was worse, Flyers star Eric Lindros, who had missed several games after two concussions, was cleared to return to action.

Game six began as a scoreless battle, with each team unable to light the lamp for the first 51 minutes of the game. The Devils drew first blood, with playoff hero Claude Lemieux providing the spark. Lemieux stripped Andy Delmore of the puck and worked the puck to Holik. Holik put a shot on net, and Lemieux put home the rebound for his 80th playoff goal. Even a Lindros goal couldn’t help the Flyers, as the Devils defeated their rivals, 3-1, and evened the series at three apiece and forcing a game seven.

The Devils got out to a quick lead, 1-0, in game seven. Then, Scott Stevens gave every Devils fan something to remember, leveling Lindros near the blue line. The Flyers scorer was down for the count, and while it's always seemed to be up for debate, the hit looked clean. It would have been easy for the Flyers to fold, especially after a crushing hit. But they continued to battle, and Tocchet tied the game at one with a goal in the second period. As had happened all postseason long, the Devils big players stepped up. In the third period, Alexander Mogilny took the puck and put a shot on net. Elias, who drove the net, beat Boucher on the rebound for the series-clinching goal, and the Devils would complete the comeback.

After completing the comeback, the Devils moved on and faced the Dallas Stars in the finals. The Devils prevailed in six games, winning their second Stanley Cup championships. Stevens, who many believe sparked the Devils championship run with his hit, was awarded the Conn Smythe award.

 
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