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Written by Darren S | 19 April 2012

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Tuesday was a roller coaster ride of emotions for all Devils fans. For nearly seven minutes to begin the game, the Devils dominated the opposition in what was the closest thing I’ve seen to perfect hockey (until I watched the Penguins last night after the score was 3-3).  Devils fans and probably Devils players were strutting around, thinking they were untouchable, meanwhile forgetting how much time was actually left in the evening. Then, that ever present pendulum of momentum began to swing yet again and the Panthers stormed back, erased a 3 goal deficit, chased Marty from the net and quickly put themselves on top...for good.

The collapse was stunning, embarrassing and for me, Game 3, while not as bad since it was only a Game 3, ranks up there with Game 7 against Carolina in 2009 as one of the worst.

The reality of all this is that the Devils are only down 2-1 in the series. A win tonight changes everything and puts this series back up for grabs. A loss however, creates a huge hole for us to climb out of and I wouldn’t even begin to know who could bring us a ladder.

This much is obvious; the Devils need to stay out of the box. They desperately need to stay out of the box. Take away Florida’s success on the PP and this series looks VERY different.

Line combinations at practice on Wednesday weren’t any different than we’ve seen so far in this series. It would seem that DeBoer believes in what he’s putting out there and that change isn’t needed. I have to admit, I was and still am hoping for a little change.

  • Henrique played well all season on the top line with Parise and Kovalchuk. Why not swap him and Zajac for a night or a few periods to see if something sparks that line into what they were in the regular season.
  • Peter Harrold isn’t doing it for me and Volchenkov lacks the speed to keep up with the Panthers. I know Larsson made his mistakes during the year but pretty much everyone defenseman not named Salvador made their share of mistakes. The kid has talent and speed, might as well see what he can do.
  • Kovalchuk needs to figure out how to play playoff hockey. I understand it can be hard for a guy without much playoff experience or success to just stand up and carry a team this time of year but he needs to. Kovalchuk looks tentative out there because he’s trying to figure out his place but he’s the kind of player that needs to take over and drive the tempo of the game. Stop worrying if you are trying to do too much. Just do what you did in the regular season, don’t over think it.
  • I’m still waiting for Marty to just take over like he’s done in the past but the reality is, that might not happen. He’s older and therefore a little slower so the defense needs to help him out a little more. That means not screening him as you try and clear out the area in front of him.
  • Faceoffs, WIN THEM. It’s the main reason our Penalty Kill has been such an epic fail so far. Think about it, if you win the faceoff, you send the puck down ice which causes the Panthers to chase the puck, regroup and try to enter the zone which can take a good 10-20 seconds of the clock. If they win the faceoff, they immediately setup and start throwing pucks at the net. More wins in the faceoff circle will equal better results on the penalty kill.

And Finally….

Let be remembered as fighters!!

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Written by Scott Robb | 17 April 2012

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Embarrassing. Embarrassing is one of the many adjectives that come to mind when pondering tonight's loss. New Jersey fell in the game, 4-3, and in the series, 2-1. After allowing the Panthers to erase a three-goal deficit, the Devils were unable to score on former goaltender Scott Clemmensen. The Devils will look to turn things around on Thursday evening in Game Four.


The Devils started off in brilliant fashion, scoring three times in just over six minutes. Zach Parise scored his first goal of the series just 33 seconds into the game to put New Jersey ahead 1-0. Stephen Gionta followed up with his first career playoff goal 3:27 into the opening period. The crowd was energetic and seemed to provide the Devils with a huge boost. Patrik Elias scored his second goal of the series 6:16 into the first; Jose Theodore was pulled in favor of Scott Clemmensen as the Panthers attempted a comeback. At the 16:11 mark, Sean Bergenheim scored for the Panthers to cut the Devils' lead to 3-1. With eight seconds to go in the first, the Panthers would cut the lead to 3-2 on Jason Garrison's first goal of the season. Both Panthers goals came on the power play. However, the Devils skated into the locker room with the one-goal lead.


Devils fans, you might want to skip over this section of the recap. It was around the beginning of the second period that I began throwing my hat on the floor and yelling vulgarities at the television. Just 2:18 into the middle period, Mike Weaver tied the game at 3 with his first goal of the series. Subsequently, Devils' Head Coach Peter DeBoer pulled Martin Brodeur from the cage and turned things over to back-up Johan Hedberg. Brian Campbell scored Florida's third power play goal of the night at the 6:34 mark to give the Panthers the lead. Sloppy play doomed the Devils for the rest of the period as they were unable to get the equalizer. Both teams headed off to the locker room for the second intermission as the Devils trailed 4-3.


The Devils limited Florida to six shots on goal in the final twenty minutes of the hockey game. Unfortunately, the Devils themselves were held to nine and were unable to tie the game. Although New Jersey had several key opportunities, Clemmensen stepped up big for the Panthers. Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Patrik Elias all had marvelous chances to tie the game but fell just short. Kovalchuk's body language in the third period was nothing short of terrible. Kovy seemed frustrated and let his poor performance affect his effort for the remainder of the game. On several occassions, the Devils turned the puck over and were lazy when chasing after a loose puck.

The Devils are back at it in Game Four of this best-of-seven series on Thursday night (7 PM EST, Prudential Center). New Jersey really needs to step it up and win. If the Devils fall behind in the series 3-1, I really don't see them advancing to the next round, especially with Game Five set to be played in Florida. One thing is for sure, if the Devils are going to win this series, Game Six will have to be played. Parise, Kovalchuk, and Elias really need to step it up and start leading. Martin Brodeur also needs to stop hiding behind the excuse of a young defense. He has playoff experience and needs to show it. If there's ever a time for clutch play, it's now.

Make sure you follow the "Running With The Devils" staff on twitter: @RealScottRobb, @DEVIN88MATTER, and @Rvaidya33. Check us out on facebook, too! I'll see YOU at the Prudential Center on Thursday as we cheer on Jersey's team and hope for a win! Good night, Devils fans! 

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Written by Darren S | 17 April 2012

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Coming home from Florida with a 1-1 split isn’t a bad thing and in fact, it is pretty much how I pictured this series. The one difference is that I thought Florida would have won game 1 and NJ would have won game 2 but the result is the same and I am not upset about coming home with the series tied. What I am upset with is how the Devils have played overall. The Devils have only put together 2 decent periods of hockey over a 2 game stretch. The first period of game 1 was an amazing display of talent, hunger and domination. The other good period, period 3 in game 2, was just a little too late but it did make for an interesting ending. The Devils need to do a more consistent job from the opening faceoff to the final whistle. Hopefully they understand that and hopefully it changes starting with tonight’s matchup.

Devils coach Peter DeBoer announced this morning that he will not be making any adjustments to the lineup. I was kind of hoping that DeBoer might swap Henrique and Zajac but he’s keeping them the way they were. Nothing against Zajac but I felt that he was having trouble with the speed of Parise and Kovalchuk, which is expected having missed a lot of time this year. Henrique did a fantastic job with them all year.

Some of things I will be watching tonight

  • I think Marty has been doing enough in order to win but he hasn’t put the team on his back and taken over either. If there is one complaint that I have from the first two games, it would be the placement of the rebounds that Weiss scored on twice.

  • The defense has been doing a decent job except for one Anton Volchenkov. He’s looked out of his element and has made a ton of mistakes. He needs to fix it quickly.

  • This time of year isn’t about your big stars. Occasionally they will come through and get it done but to win playoff hockey, it comes down to the grinders. The Devils did a great job of that in period 1 of game 1 but it went away. I need more from Clarkson, Zubrus and Carter to name a few in order to feel that the Devils have a shot.

  • Penalty Killling – Holy cow has it been god awful. This is a team that set an NHL record in the regular season only to have the wheels come completely off. I didn’t think the Panthers had a terrific PP unit but they’ve made us look silly. Word of advice to the Devils PK units: try not to let Jason Garrison shoot the puck on the PP. That dude has a fricken canon of a shot.

  • The Devils are a lousy 3-7 at home in the playoffs since moving to the Prudential Center. That changes tonight!!
  • The Devils motto this spring is “Swarm It Up”… cmon boys, time to start swarming it up….

 

Be sure to follow our group of guys on twitter, especially during the games. We aren’t the most quiet people in the world!! In case you aren’t following us, here are the links so now you have no excuse!!

The RWTD Crew: @RWTDblog @Rvaidya33 @RealScottRobb and @DEVIN88MATTERA




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Written by Raj Vaidya | 16 April 2012

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Monday Masala


Hey everyone. Today, I was going to add a new feature to Running With the Devils, known as Monday Masala (I’ll get to the meaning in a moment). Due to a last minute emergency, I won’t be writing in detail today. However, I’ll get you all introduced to this new feature so you all know what to expect every Monday from this point on.

Well most of you must be wondering what is “Masala”. It’s a South Asian term for a mixture of spices - and my origins are from there so I thought it would be a fitting title. Essentially, I would go into detail looking at all of the Devils players and their respective performances (whether it be in game or on the stat sheet). Then I would pick out the players who most stand out and place them in a “Spicy/Stale” category. After that you will see an explanation as to why the players I picked were either “Spicy” (performing exceptionally) or “Stale” (performing not so well). While the names for the categories do seem hilarious at first look, that’s what spices are – spicy or stale. After that, I’ll put my perspective into the team as a whole and determine which category they (the Devils) belong into. If my mind is still a bit unclear (this will apply for the team only), I would put them into the “Mild” category (as mild is neither spicy nor bland). This week (because of personal time constraints), you’ll only see my opinion of the team. Hopefully you guys will enjoy this addition and I promise there will be more detail next time. Feel free to send me your opinions/criticisms as well; my opinions won’t always match yours. Thanks for the support!

If there’s anything we learned from the first two playoff games, it’s that the Devils have been a bit shaky. Their best periods were Period 1 in Game 1 and Period 3 in Game 2. That’s because they’ve only scored their total series goals in those periods (3 and 2 respectively). Florida, on the other hand, is just a bit more spread out period-wise in scoring. The Devils had a shaky 1st period in Game 2, disastrous 2nd periods in both games, but pretty beneficial 3rd periods. Giving the Devils the “spicy” card isn’t possible now. If they continued to play like how they did from the 1st period in Game 1 up to this point, they would’ve gotten the “spicy” card and be up 2-0 in the series rather than be split at 1 game apiece. Though, you can’t say they’re “stale” either because they’ve done their best to shake off those blunders. My vote? MILD!

For all the latest Devils news, follow us on twitter: @RWTDblog @Rvaidya33 @RealScottRobb and @DEVIN88MATTERA and you can like us on our Facebook page! So long for now – I’m Raj Vaidya, and hopefully this spice wasn’t too hot to handle!

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Written by Raj Vaidya | 15 April 2012

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Panthers Rats Game 2

Game 2 of the Playoffs between the New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers took place today (April 15th), and the Devils looked to add on their series lead. In game 1, New Jersey held on to win and they looked to carry out the momentum tonight. 2/3 of Game 2 was (depending on respective opinion) either boring or disappointing. For me it was like watching a chess match and crying at the same time. Devils fans would be entertained to an attempted miracle from the Devils in the 3rd but in the end, New Jersey got thrown into Florida’s litter box.



I thought we would be seeing ex-Devil Scott Clemmensen between the pipes for the Florida Panthers. Instead, the Panthers boldly chose Jose Theodore to start once more against Marty Brodeur, who beat Theodore in Game 1 to earn his 100th playoff victory. Right from the opening faceoff, I cringed. Just 11 seconds into the match, Andy Greene took a tripping penalty to give Florida a power play. It only took the Panthers 12 seconds to convert. Stephen Weiss scored his first ever playoff goal with the assists going to Mikael Samuelsson and Kris Versteeg. There weren’t many chances, to be honest, generated by either team after that. At the 12:22 point, Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov took a delay-of-game penalty which gave the Devils a power play opportunity and the chance to tie the game. Fans have stressed that the power play needs to get better. Unfortunately, they failed to convert. Florida really stepped up their defensive play compared to their performance in Game 1. Both teams went 9 minutes without a shot, which is sad because that’s not playoff hockey. The referees from Game 1 (they were clearly bad ones) were replaced by new ones, however, I think these guys were worse. With 17 seconds to go, Alex Ponikarovsky cross-checked Panther defenseman Erik Gudbranson. I agreed with that call but the call after that just infuriated me. David Clarkson was called for charging in on Gudbranson. In all honesty, it was a terrible call which gave Florida a 5-on-3 power play for a full 2 minutes. Time ran out though and the teams skated back into the locker rooms with Florida having the 1 goal edge. Shots-on-goal were just 4-3, in favor of NJ (too boring).



Florida was given the gift of starting with a 5-on-3. If you had to give props to the Panthers for one thing up to this point, it was that they converted on any opportunity they got. They, meaning Weiss, who put in his 2nd goal of the game with the assists coming from Marcel Goc and Jason Garrison at the 18:48 point. The Devils found themselves in a 2-0 hole and things were simply not going their way, even when the opportunity came. At the 17:53 point, the Devils went back on the power play when Samuelsson took a hooking penalty, but left the ice for some unknown reason (the penalty was served by Shawn Matthias). There were a couple of chances, but ultimately, no goals. A real great chance presented itself for the Devils near the 12 minute mark. Steve Bernier had a breakaway but instead of trying to move or even shoot the puck, he looked like as if he backhanded a pass to Theodore. Branching off that play, another bad call from the ref sent Ryan Carter to the penalty box, for hooking. This power play was successfully killed off by NJ. Captain Zach Parise had a great chance to cut the lead in half with a one timer from the left circle. Unfortunately, Theodore made the stop. It really hurts deep down when Devils fans know their team looks to fight back and then slightest bit of bad luck falls upon them. This bad luck came from a shot from Goc, which Marty seemed to have. Somehow, the puck trickled in behind him and now the Devils knew they had a big mountain to climb. Goc’s 1st goal of the playoffs came at the 5:21 point with the assists going to Brian Campbell and Sean Bergenheim. There was some pressure from New Jersey with just over a minute to go but in the end, the Panthers were comfortably leading 3-0 after two periods of play. Shots-on-goal were 14-13 in favor of Florida this time. I used to think the referees this season were for the most part fantastic but after the playoffs started, their performance arguably turned upside down.



Now the Devils came into the 3rd without a goal in 80 minutes of play. In an attempt to get things going, Coach DeBoer put Adam Henrique between Kovalchuk and Parise. Surprisingly- it worked! In the opening minute of the 3rd, Travis Zajac wristed the puck past Theodore and the Devils had life again! Zajac’s 1st of the playoffs was assisted by Greene and Ponikarovsky. They didn’t stop there. Exactly 1:14 later, Kovalchuk deflected a pass from Henrique and that found its way past Theodore as well! To be honest, I love miracles and now the Devils were on the hunt for one. Kovalchuk’s 1st goal (on his birthday!) of the playoffs was solely assisted by Henrique. Offensive forays were controlled by the Devils from this point on. There were an abundance of chances that could’ve done more than just tied the game. Florida’s best opportunity came near the 6-minute mark. Scottie Upshall was left all alone (where was the defense?) but his tip from a pass from fellow teammate Garrison was stopped by Marty. New Jersey pulled Brodeur around the 1 minute mark in search of that tying goal. They got several chances but ultimately, none would go in the net. Panther forward Tomas Fleischmann scored the empty netter (unassisted) just as time expired and the Panthers won the game 4-2. Soon, the rats started to flood the ice and the Devils made sure they got out of there quickly. The series is tied at 1 and the teams will play games 3 and 4 in Newark. Let’s hope for the best for the Devils. Shots-on-goal were 25-23 in favor of NJ.

2-4  

Three Stars:

  1. Stephen Weiss
  2. Marcel Goc
  3. Ilya Kovalchuk

Next Game: Game 3 vs. Florida at The Rock (Tuesday, April 17th, 2012)

Key Notes:

First off, all of us here at Running With the Devils wish Ilya Kovalchuk and Cam Janssen a happy birthday (29 years and 28 years respectively)! “Birthdaychuck” got the Devils’ second goal but Janssen, along with Eric Boulton and Adam Larsson (who warmed up) were healthy scratches. New Jersey didn’t have a great night on the PK either. They were 1/3. How can you blame em though when the officiating isn’t doing a fair job? The Florida Panthers won their first playoff game since April 17th, 1997 (against the Rangers) so it’s fair to let the fans have their moment (while it lasts) and throw those infamous rats on the ice. Tonight’s game also featured 102 hits – my goodness! That’s the most in any playoff game so far. Even that brutally physical game played earlier in Philadelphia between the Flyers and Penguins didn’t have as many hits as tonight!

For all the latest Devils news, follow us on twitter: @RWTDblog @Rvaidya33 @RealScottRobb and @DEVIN88MATTERA and you can like us on our Facebook page!

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Written by Darren S | 15 April 2012

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Game one was all kinds of awesome for the first 20 minutes but as the period was ending with the Devils leading 3-0, my biggest fear was that NJ would back off and allow Florida to get back into the game. It’s not that NJ completely backed off but Florida certainly picked up there game. I don’t expect NJ to play an entire 60 minutes like they did the first 20 the other night. In fact, I don’t want to even suggest that they try to because that is unreasonable. I want a more balanced game from start to finish where the Devils keep the opposition from even thinking they have a chance. The Devils did a lot of things right the other night but there are things to improve upon for tonight.

Things I will be watching For:

  • The Panthers seemed to have an endless parade to the box the other night and while we did score on one opportunity, we could have put them away early with a couple more PP goals. At times, we looked so disorganized on gaining the zone while a man up.
  • Versteeg has been killing us all year..CONTAIN HIM!!
  • Keep shooting. If Florida wants to go with Theordore then keep shooting because his “Jose Three-Or-More” nickname exists for a reason
  • Stay physical. Florida started to amp it up in the 2nd half of the game and it seemed to give them energy. Bang them around, don’t let them be more physical.
  • Kovalchuk and Parise need to show up. Didn’t think they had a great game 1.

And finally…

You might disagree with me but I think the refs have been horrible overall in these playoffs. Lots of calls I don’t agree with getting called. For instance, the 4 minute man advantage we got the other night in the first, still not sure why. Last night I saw a terrible call on Toews for interference that was initiated by Mike Smith that led to a PP and PP goal for Pheonix. There are many more examples, those are just a quick few. Cmon Refs, let’s get it together!!

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Written by Devin Mattera | 13 April 2012

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 Here we are! Friday has arrived! As long as this week has seemed Devils fans, the day has come, the puck has been dropped in New Jersey's "Quest For 4". The early goings of this game, WOW! The Devils were WIDE AWAKE. You would have never guessed that this team's last game was nearly a week ago. After wrapping up the season as the hottest team heading into the playoffs, winning the teams last 6 games, Jersey was in locked in and ready to continue their success against Florida. The last time these two teams met in the post season was back in 2000 where New Jersey swept the Panthers in 4 straight games in the opening round of the playoffs, the first team beat on their way to the Stanley Cup Finals in which the Devils won their 2nd Championship in franchise history.



 The ice was tilted here in the opening period, if you couldnt tell by the 1st period box score. The Devils outshot Florida 26-9 in the first 20 minutes of play, scoring three times! The Panthers showed up early, and briefly, and then not again until the team hit the ice for the start of the 2nd period. The score sheet got its first bit of ink on it when the birthday boy, Patrik Elias weaved magic in and out of numerous defensemen, practically unlacing Jose Theodore and firing a shot high over the sprawled out goaltender and into the net! NEW JERSEY GOAL! Elias' goal, scored on his 36th birthday gave the Devils the lead a mere six and a half minutes into the period. Dainius Zubrus got the lone assist on the goal. Patty's goal would open the flood gates. The Devils' pressure was on and the pedal was to the metal! New Jersey would put another goal on the board while on the man advantage when Florida's Shawn Matthias got called for a double minor hi stick on Andy Greene. The Devils scored AGAIN, increasing the lead to 2 on a goal by Zubrus. Zubbie's goal was set up by David Clarkson and the goalie, Marty Brodeur! When it seemed like the Devils' scoring brigade was all said and done, ANOTHER goal was scored! Ryan Carter punched a goal past the phenominal Jose Theodore to put the Dev's up 3-0. The Devils would eventually outshoot the Cats 26-9 through 20 minutes of play, scoring 3 times allowing no goals. 


 
  After seeing how prolific the scoring was in the first period, I would have expected more of the same from the Dev's in this period, what we got, was a nailbitter. The Devils would sacrafice two goals to the Panthers in the middle period. Goals by Florida were recorded by Sean Bergenheim at 7:44 of the second period assisted by Marcel Goc and Mikael Samuelsson to bring the Panthers to within two of the 6th seeded New Jersey Devils. With just under 5 minutes left, the Devils would head back on the penalty kill in the period (one of 4 New Jersey penalties in the period), a penalty that would be deactivated 19 seconds later when Kris Versteeg squeezed one through the pads of Marty Brodeur for the 2nd goal of the night for the Panthers. Versteeg's powerplay goal, his 6th goal against NJ this year, was set up due in part to a beautiful passing play initiated by linemate Mikael Samuelsson and Tomas Fleischmann. Along with the 2 goals, 7 total penalties would be assessed in the second period, 4 to New Jersey, 3 to Florida. The Panthers would kill both (aside from one off-setting minor), while scoring on one of 3. Florida's powerplay unit went 1/3 on the evening. As for New Jersey, the Devils would'nt be as productive, as they'd only score once on six opportunities. Now down by one goal, it would appear as though the famous words of The Maven, Stan Fischler could potentially come true "A three goal lead is the most dangerous lead in hockey.". 


 
 In a playoff game, its very rare to see a dull period. The third period in this one sure stood out as one of the more, uneventful periods. Shots were 6 a piece in the closing 20 resulting in no goals on either side of the ice, eventually leading to a Devils game one victory. A few fast breaks and whistle-less minutes of play would highlight the period aside from the lone penalty called on Versteeg at 15:35 for hooking, a penalty killed by the Cats. The Panthers couldnt manage to materalize on their bit of momentum gained in the 2nd period as it'd be Marty Brodeur standing tall and staving off 24 Florida shots on the night. THE DEVILS WIN! Friday the 13th sure as hell didn't seem all that UNLUCKY for Jersey's team. 3-2 the final in Sunrise!

 3-2 Final 
 
 As most of you had predicted, the Devils took Game 1 in Sunrise, FL this evening by the final score of 3-2. In wake of the victory, Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, who finished the night with 24 saves and an assist, captured his 100th career playoff victory, 2nd on the all-time list behind Patrick Roy with 151. Elias scored tonight, being the first marker of the game, on his 36th birthday. The next game between the 3rd seed and 6th seed will be played Sunday evening at 7:30 from the BankAtlantic Center before New Jersey returns home for games 3 and 4, Tuesday the 17th and Thursday the 19th. 

  

 To hear all the latest Devils Playoff information, be sure to follow us on twitter at @RWTDblog , @DEVIN88MATTERA , @RealScottRobb and @Rvaidya33 as well as our facebook page! From all of us here at Running With The Devils, singing off until the playoffs begin, I'm Devin Mattera, you stay classy Devils Fans.

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Written by Darren S | 13 April 2012

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It’s finally Friday and the Devils and Panthers will finally get their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal s matchup underway tonight. This is it!! This is what we’ve been waiting an entire year for. The Devils enter tonight’s game as the hottest team to close out the regular season having won their final 6 games but that was last week. THIS is a whole different ballgame. Four quick loses and you are packing up for a long summer.

The Devils finished the regular season in 6th place and the Panthers finished in 3rd by having won the Southeast Division on the final day of the regular season. The Devils had 10 more wins than Florida during the regular season so on paper this matchup looks to favor NJ but this is playoff hockey, you never know what you are going to get.

Let’s get to it!!

Season Series Matchup

The Panthers won the season series over the Devils by going 2-1-1. The Devils outscored Florida 12-11 in those 4 games, so as you can see, these two teams appear to be very even. One of the most frustrating moments this season came against Florida, in Florida when the Devils squandered a 3-0 first period lead and lost to the Panthers 4-3 in regulation back on November 21st.

The Big Story Lines:

  1. Peter DeBoer, who spent 3 seasons as the Panthers coach was fired last summer by Florida before NJ picked him up to the new Devils head coach. Who would have thought back then that DeBoer’s first playoff appearance in the NHL would come against that Florida team that just let him go?
  2. The Devils return to the playoffs after a rare miss last season but haven’t have playoff success in recent years. Can they right the ship? Can they be the dark horse that everyone is predicting them to be?
  3. This is the first trip to the post-season for Florida since the 1999-2000 season when they were swept out of the first round by the eventual Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils.

What We Will Be Watching For In This Series

  • I already mentioned the lack of success over the recent years when it comes to the playoffs. We all know Parise’s contract is up very soon so the Devils need to find a way to make a run. Show Zach that we are building something here and that he is an important piece and should he stay, there is no reason to think a Stanley Cup is not a possibility.
  • After 10 NHL seasons, 406 regular-season career goals, nine straight 30-goal years and two world championships with Russia, there is something missing from Ilya Kovalchuk's resume, an appearance in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s time to change that.
  • For the first time in my life, I’m not questioning if the Devils offense can get the job done but rather can the defense get the job done. The defense did a good job in the final 10 games of the season so let’s hope that continues.

 

What I Will Be Watching For Tonight

  • The Panthers have a doozy of a first line but that line is responsible for 40% of their goals this season which means the Panthers aren’t a very deep team. NJ is a deeper team and needs to use that to their advantage.
  • Ex-Devil Scott Clemmensen is a good goalie; we know that first hand but NJ will get their chances. The trick is making them count.
  • Getting the lead is important against the Panthers because they are the type of team that “turtles” once they get the lead which can be very tough to overcome. On top of that, an early lead should take the crowd out of it.
  • How do the Devils handle the Florida defense? They have some very good guys on the blue line which will make it difficult for NJ at times.
  • Usually it’s a guy name Weiss that I fear when we play Florida but the this season, NJ did a good job keeping Weiss and Fleichmann from killing us but that just gave Kris Versteeg to opportunity to be a thorn in our side. The Devils need to keep all three quiet, which is a big task to ask.

And Finally... Let's Get It Going!!!


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Written by Scott Robb | 08 April 2012

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The 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs are upon us. It's time to put on your Devils jersey and crowd around the big screen television. New Jersey's team will take on the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, set to begin on Friday. Between scoreboard watching, tallying up the points, and analyzing the possible first round match-ups, the "Running With The Devils" staff has experienced a busy week. Now that we're in playoff mode, let's take a deeper look at the Devils first round series.

Who: The sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils will take on the third-seeded Florida Panthers. The Devils finished the regular season with 102 points, just seven behind the Rangers, who won the Atlantic Division. Florida, on the other hand, racked up 94 regular season points and won the southeast division in the Eastern Conference.

When:

 

Season Series: Technically, the Panthers won the season series against the Devils this year. Florida went 2-1-1 (5 points), while New Jersey went 2-2-0 (4 points). New Jersey outscored Florida, however, 12-11.

Will History Repeat Itself: The last time these two teams met in the playoffs, the year was 2000 and the Devils were on their way to an eventual Stanley Cup championship. New Jersey, who held the four seed in the east, swept the fifth-seeded Panthers in four games. New Jersey outscored Florida by a tally of 12-6 and easily advanced to the next round of the playoffs. Will we see a similar performance this year?

Key Players: Adam Henrique will have to step up for the Devils in the opening round of the playoffs. Henrique, a rookie, was a huge factor this season and would provide a large morale boost for the rest of the team if his play continues on the same path that it has all season. On the opposite end, Kris Versteeg has played a huge role in the Panthers organization this year and put up great numbers against New Jersey. We'll see if his play continues in the postseason and if the Devils defense can successfully contain him.

Predictions:

 Darren: I say Devils in six. Looks like we're moving on in the playoffs, as this should be a fairly easy match-up.

 Scott: I say Devils in four. I'm a huge believer in the Devils and with strong goaltending from Martin Brodeur, we'll see the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. With the way the Devils are playing, it's an insult to say that the Panthers will win this series. Is it too soon to say that I predicted the Devils to win the Stanley Cup this year?

 Devin: Devils in five. Look for New Jersey to win Game One and lose Game Two. After that, it's easy hockey for New Jersey, and they'll take the next three. The defense will have to step up, but it can be done.

 Raj: I agree with Darren. Devils in six. The Devils should win Game One but will drop Game Two. New Jersey will take Game Three and Four. Florida will win Game Five in their home stadium, but New Jersey will take the series when the teams return to New Jersey.

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Written by Raj Vaidya | 07 April 2012

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Stephen Gionta First NHL Goal!

Strange isn’t it? It feels like yesterday remembering that 2011-12 season opener against Philadelphia at The Rock (I was in attendance myself). I thought to myself “Oh no... this is gonna be one long season”. Surprisingly, it wasn’t and I’m surprised the regular season ended today with all 30 teams in action. We know that the Devils are already in the playoffs but we wanted them to end on a winning note as well as they faced off against the Ottawa Senators. This week the Devils have not disappointed us and guess what? Today wasn’t any different and New Jersey did end their regular season on a winning note!



Devils fans finally got their chance to see ex-Devil (now Habs captain) Brian Gionta’s younger brother, Stephen, play on the 4th line. The Devils were looking for their 6th straight win and they felt he could help them get to that feat. Ottawa looked a bit out of place as they were icing the puck quite often pretty early. At the 15:10 point, they took a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty (served by Nick Foligno) to give the Devils their first power play of the afternoon. Unfortunately, it was uneventful and they played on. Senator goalie Craig Anderson made some good stops on chances from the Devils but Marty Brodeur looked even better! Sadly though, it only took one bad play to give Ottawa early momentum and cause Marty to lose his rhythm. That bad play came at the 9:01 point, when Senator defenseman Matt Gilroy backhanded the puck at Marty, who then seemed to kick at it, and as a result, missed it and went behind the net. This Brodeur Blunder caused the Devils to fall back 1-0. Gilroy’s 3rd of the season was assisted by Kyle Turris and Chris Phillips. Exactly 3 minutes later after the goal, Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson took a high sticking penalty, putting the Devils back on the power play. This one was actually eventful and the Devils found a way to capitalize! At the 4:34 point, Ilya Kovalchuk found himself with the puck and shot it past the right side of Anderson and into the net. Kovy’s 36th of the season was assisted by Patrik Elias and Peter Harrold! Marty made a great save on Colin Greening to keep this game tied at 1 after the 1-minute mark. Unfortunately, the Devils took a penalty with just 11 seconds to go. Alex Ponikarovsky was called for high sticking but the Sens didn’t score. Shots-on-goal after 1 were 12-10 in favor of our New Jersey Devils.



The Devils needed to kill off about 1:49 of Ottawa power play time. In my opinion, they did more than just that. The amount of shorthanded chances that they created was phenomenal. However, no goals were yielded from either side. A good chance came for Ottawa to take the lead at the 14:45 point, when Marty was vulnerable, yet he somehow made the save! After that it was the Devils who responded with some chances of their own. A great rush by Andy Greene was stopped by Anderson and a one-handed wrap around opportunity from Dainius Zubrus failed. New Jersey’s 3rd and 4th lines were even getting into it, so it was good to see all the opportunities. Still, there weren’t any goals but the task was certainly in reach. Well… at least it felt that way. Around the 6-minute mark, Jim O’Brien knocked in his 3rd of the season (assisted by Eric Condra and Gilroy) on a shot which deflected off of Marty and into the net. It’s been apparent to me that the Devils have fallen asleep several times in the last two games when the right side of the ice is their zone. Luck was bestowed on New Jersey once more though, when Foligno took a slashing penalty (ironically his stick broke as a result) at around the 4-minute mark. Right off the draw, a one-timer from Kovy deflected off the helmet of Anderson and out of play. From that point on I knew this power play would be eventful. Kovy even set up Sykora on a breakaway but Anderson stopped it. I’m not sure if this is the same for everybody, but something happened on this power play which I saw for the first time (I’ve been a hockey fan for 14 years now)… a 5-on-1. That too on a power play! What short-handed team has ever done that? Nonetheless, that didn’t matter to me as that 5-on-1 ended with a tip-in from Sykora to tie the game at 2! Sykora’s 21st was assisted by Adam Henrique and Zubrus at the 2:17 point. A last chance from Kovy was stopped by Anderson with 13 seconds to go but now Devils looked to be in control of the game. Shots-on-goal after two were 27-20 in favor of New Jersey.



Coming into the 3rd period, Ottawa had a pretty good record if they were tied after the 2nd. There wasn’t much to say about to the first half of this 3rd period. There was a great chance created by the Devils at the 14:17 point (and Anderson denied the opportunity), but that was it in my perspective, in terms of any action in the first half of the 3rd. It got extremely exciting after and I felt back to life again. Ponikarovsky used his muscles to rush through the Senators’ zone and even got a shot on Anderson. He left a rebound and guess who found the way to wrist it in?! YES – STEPHEN GIONTA! With only 9:05 left in the 3rd, it was Gionta’s first goal of the season that (assisted by Ponikarovsky and Steve Bernier) was at the moment, the game winner as the Devils now had a 3-2 lead! New Jersey did take a penalty later at the 6:36 point. Bryce Salvador was called for delay-of-game but the Senators power play only produced a couple of chances, which Marty stopped. Momentum belonged solely to the Devils. With just about a minute to go, Ottawa pulled Craig Anderson out of the net for an extra skater. As added insurance, Kovy found a way to score the empty netter and pretty much seal the deal! It was Kovy’s 2nd of the match and 37th of the season (giving him 83 points on the season – better than a point-per-game), assisted by captain Zach Parise. The Devils held on and won the game 4-2! They finished their 2011-12 regular season by winning 6 consecutive games and reaching 102 points! Playoffs here we come!

2-4 

Three Stars:

  1. Stephen Gionta (Well deserved!)
  2. Ilya Kovalchuk
  3. Matt Gilroy

Next Game: It will be New Jersey @ Florida/DC. We will know later tonight but the Devils will play the Southeast Division Winner as they clinched the 6th spot Thursday night. Most likely Game 1 will take place on April 11th!

Key Notes: As this was game 82, the Devils decided to sit some players out. Eric Boulton, David Clarkson, and Anton Volchenkov all sat out. Stephen Gionta (congrats to him again!) came in along with Adam Larsson. The situation with Larsson is tricky. He led all Devils defensemen in points this season with 18 but is his confidence good for the playoffs? Benching him must’ve affected it and I certainly do not want to see any mistakes from the defense come playoff time. Harrold has been performing pretty well so we shall see what coach DeBoer decides to do. Oh and speaking of DeBoer, he got a new tie! It was presented as a gift to him after he spoke at his old law school in Windsor, Ontario (Wednesday night). Props to the Atlantic and Central Divisions for having 4 teams (NYR, PHI, PIT, NJ for Atlantic) (STL, DET, NSH, CHI for Central) finish with over 100 points on the season! That’s called dominance! Adam Henrique came into today’s match with 50 points, 2 behind rookies Gabriel Landeskog of Colorado and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Edmonton. He picked up an assist so that puts him 1 behind. Should that affect his chances at winning the Calder? The voters should recognize that he’s at least going to the playoffs unlike the other two rookies, regardless of their great season. Congrats to Parise, Sykora, Zubrus, Mark Fayne, and Salvador for being the only Devils players this season to play all 82 games! Parise had at least one shot-on-goal in every game he played this season. New Jersey’s penalty kill was 2/2 in front of a sellout crowd of 17,625. The Devils’ PK set a single season record! They finished greater than 89.5% and scored a league-high 15 shorthanded goals!

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Devils Salute 2011-12 Regular Season 

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