The Matchup - Philadelphia Flyers at New Jersey Devils. Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Flyers lead the best-of-seven series 3-1.
The Last Game - The Devils actually looked good to start the game but when they took the ice for period 2, they obviously left something back in the locker room. Their 1-0 lead quickly disappeared and when the final horn sounded, the Flyers had beaten NJ pretty badly.
Tonight's Matchup - Tonight is a do or die game, it's that simple. We haven't seen how the 2010 version of the Devils play when their backs are against the wall but we will tonight. AJ wrote an excellent piece last night about the need for leadership to come forward in order for NJ to even dream of not exiting the playoffs in Round 1 for the 3rd year in a row.
The Devils also need to play a full 60 minutes. In fact, go through all the game previews and reviews from this season and you'll probably see a pattern where I constantly get on NJ for not playing a full 60 minutes. It's been a problem all season and it is something NJ hasn't been able to solve. Under Sutter, I thought NJ would back off too much when they got a lead but it seems this season, the Devils just don't play a solid 60 minutes whether or not they have the lead.
Give credit to the Flyers in this series. Their forecheck has been suffocating. When the Flyers get their forecheck going, the Devils have had real problems getting out of their own zone. To me, our defenseman just can't seem to handle the pressure and that's a problem I really didn't see coming into this series.
Lou is certainly not a happy man at the moment. In an article in the NJ Star-Ledger yesterday, it was reported that Lou had lost his temper in the locker room after Game 4. A furious Lou Lamoriello had let his coaching staff know exactly what was on his mind and ended his tirade by throwing a jar of jelly from a near by postgame spread against the wall. Clearly he's pissed and why shouldn't he be? In his mind, he's built a team to win now.
The Devils seem to have gotten a bit of a break (or two!!) going into tonight's game. Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne are out because both of them broke a foot the other night in Game 4. At first that news seems big but honestly, Carter hadn't done anything until Game 4 and Gagne hasn't done much either. If it were Pronger and Giroux missing Game 5, I'd be a little more upbeat about the news.
The Flyers aren't going to bring any surprises to the table tonight, that's the beauty of the playoffs. You know what is coming and really, the Flyers don't need to change anything, only the Devils do. We've done the improbably before and if this team can come together, there is no reason they can't do it again. So if you are heading to the Rock tonight, bring your energy because this team is going to need the fans behind them.