The Matchup: New Jersey Devils at the Philadelphia Flyers. Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quaterfinals. The Flyers lead the best-of-7 matchup 2-1.
The Last Game: Marty kept the Devils in the game and eventually got them to overtime but the Devils offense didn't do much to help out Marty and eventually Carcillo, set up in front of the net because who would actually pay attention to this guy as a bonafied goal scorer, punched in a trickling puck giving the Flyers a 3-2 victory in OT.
Thoughts About Tonight:
Must Win?: The Devils are in another "Must Win" situation in most peoples eyes. If the Devils walk away with a victory tonight, all of the sudden its a best-of-3 series with 2 games being played in NJ whereas if the Devils lose tonight, then we would have to repeat the 2000 Conference Finals, something I am sure Brian Boucher has never forgotten.
Devils Offense: Please show up!! The Devils top players were on the ice a lot on Sunday Night due to a high number of penalty calls. Parise played 20 mins, Zajac 21 mins and Kovalchuk 27 mins and combined the three of them accounted for 5 shots on net. Lemaire talked yesterday about how he wasn't thrilled with the top players performance on Sunday night. I actually think the top players, especially the line of Zajac/Langs/Kovy haven't been great all series, not just Sunday night. Which leads me right into my next dicussion about our captain Jamie Langenbrunner.
Langenbrunner: Once upon a time, I thought of this guy as Mr. Clutch. Watching the game on Sunday night, I found myself making comments directed at Jamie a few times. Comments like, "Captains play with emotion Jamie", "Way to give up on the puck Jamie", "Where's the $&#^@ leadership JAMIE??!!"
This is playoffs and its all about results and our captain doesn't have many results. In the years that Scott Stevens was this teams captain, results came in the way of defensive manuevers becuase he was a defenseman. I never expected Stevens to rush the ice with the puck and pop home a goal but I expected him to lead his team emotionally, which he always did. Sunday night I wonder about Jamie's locker room leadership because this team came out flat in the third period. A good leader gets their team up and ready to battle when you are on the road and playing in a tie game after 2 periods. He gets a pass for the OT because the Clarkson penalty did so much damage and it happened so early on is was hard to tell what emotional state the Devils were in.
Jamie's game and attitude have been on my radar since the issues that came up after he was a healthy scratch in Carolina so maybe I am being a little hard on him but the bottom line is that I expect certain things out of my captain and right now, in this series, #15 has been noticably absent from the picture.
Penalty Killing: Penalties are going to happen and in the case of Game 3, they may be called for the most minor of things and really alter the game but the Devils have to do a better job at killing off their penalties. In the 3 games played, they have been shorthanded 15 times and watched the Flyers score 4 times while up a man, including Carcillo's game winner in OT. Of the 16 teams currently playing, the Devils rank 12th overall in PK percentage...AWFUL!!
Marty Brodeur: Can you really ask him to do more? Honestly, I was getting frustrated with him letting in so many goals on what seemed like so few shots but I am really just being too hard on him. The guy has stepped up for these playoffs and he can't do it all by himself. He needs his offense to give him a few more goals and he needs his defense to stop letting the Flyers get so many pucks to the net. Did you watch Period 3 on Sunday? That game shouldn't have even gotten to OT because the Flyers were just coming and coming but thanks to amazing save after amazing save, the game did go beyond 60 minutes and it was all Marty Brodeurs doing, not his teammates.
Final Thoughts: Tonight, like Friday night is another huge game for the Devils. I have yet to see the Devils play what I feel is a great game and I know they are capable of it, I just hope wherever THAT team is at the moment, makes their way to the Wachovia Center tonight.
If you need a little inspiration to get pumped up for tonight's game, check out the video below..