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...