Series tied 2-2 going into tonight’s Game 5 at Madison Square Garden. It’s been a doozy of a series already with a lot of back and forth in the win column but truth be told, I think the Devils have really outplayed the Rangers for most of the series. I could probably count 3 periods and not a full 3 periods where the Rangers put something together that was better than what the Devils were putting together. Unfortunately for us, 2 of those 3 periods came in the 3rd period of a 0-0 game and got the win for NY. Frustration hasn’t gotten the best of NJ because being tied 2-2 in a series where you’ve dominated most of the time on ice is frustrating.
So what are the keys to tonight’s game for the Devils?
Be Aggressive to start the game. NY hasn’t shown much aggression or hunger in terms of getting the puck (being aggressive and cheap when skating by Marty is a different story!!) so NJ has to expect the Rangers to come out with all they’ve got tonight. It’s important to get a good start when you are playing in a place like Madison Square Garden. It’s the Garden, you are not going to every take the crowd out of the game but getting off to a good start can go a long way when it comes to dealing with their crowd.
Stay Cool, Calm and Composed. We didn’t fall into the trap of retaliation against the Flyers and didn’t fall into the other night in Game 4 when Rupp started being himself. (BTW, what happened to Rupp? He wasn’t a piece of shit when he played here but now he is a BIG piece of shit…must be that jersey!!) I would expect more of the same from NY, especially if NJ finds a lead. I do love how Torts calls us dirty and then throws Rupp, Eminger and Bickle on the ice together like he isn’t trying to start something!!
Stay with the fore-check and do it often and do it hard. The Rangers don’t have a lot of answers other than Lundqvist making some brilliant saves when the Devils really get on their fore-check.
Marty has been good and he has to keep being good.
Enough with this Zach Parise contract crap in all the papers. I’m fairly confident he has only one thing on his mind right now and that’s Game 5. Tomorrow it will be Game 6, not where he’s going to play next year.
After Game 3, I can admit to being a little aggravated with this team. I thought they did a good job putting the pressure on the Rangers but missed a lot of opportunities. Yes, Lundqvist was good and did what a good goalie should but the Devils are a better team offensively than the Rangers yet failed to produce anything in the goal column. I think it showed in the third because NJ came out flat and let the game get away from them.
There isn’t much to say other than finish your opportunities. Yes, I know you aren’t going to finish every one of them but you have to finish some. Get more guys in front of the net. That proved to be the key to success in Game 2 but we got away from it in Game 3.
Changes tonight – Jossefson in and Sykora sits. It seems that has angered a lot of people but Sykora hasn’t really done anything offensively in this series so maybe Jossefson could create a spark much like Larsson did in Game 2 in Philly.
I don’t think we have to change much, just finish and we will get the win. In all honesty, NJ has been the better team 6 out of the 9 periods played. The third periods in Game 1 and 3 proved to be the difference for the Rangers. (Period 2 of game 2 is the other period I would say NY was better in .)
And Finally … Thoughts on the Prust suspension and Tortorella’s reaction…
Prust absolutely deserved one game for his elbow to the head and to suggest the NJ is a dirtier team that NY is downright preposterous. Let’s see, New York Rangers - Total times shorthanded in the 2012 postseason: 58. New Jersey Devils - Total times shorthanded in the 2012 postseason: 56. Pretty even there. New York Rangers, total suspensions handed out in the 2012 postseason: 2 (4 games total). New Jersey Devils, total suspensions handed out in the 2012 postseason: 0. Try again jackass. I get it though, the Devils aren’t giving you any bulletin board material so you are trying you best to get DeBoer and crew to say something in retaliation.
The Eastern Conference Finals changes venues this afternoon for a 1pm start, which absolutely sucks when there isn’t a WCF game scheduled for Prime Time. I can’t guarantee anything other than the game will be played in a building where the ice isn’t as poor as it was in game 1 & 2 and every door in the building works properly.
Wednesday night was stressful to say the least but I knew going into this series that it was going to be stressful. The Devils wore down the Rangers the other night with a ferocious fore-check and a hunger to win every battle and get to every puck. They did let up in the second but got it back for the third. I have a hard time believing that the Rangers are going to let that happen again. With 2 days off instead of the normal 1 day in between games, I would imagine that the Rangers will have a little more energy and pep to their game than they did in Game 2.
DeBoer said after Game 1 that shot blocking wasn’t the big story of the series and in Game 2, the Devils proved it wasn’t but they are going to have to keep proving it every game.
The task at hand is a rather large task but if the New Jersey Devils can just take care of their home ice, then we can put this series to bed. However, it is important not to get too far ahead of ourselves. The Devils did a great job taking the Philly series 1 game at a time and not looking ahead to what winning the series meant. Let’s hope Deboer is keeping the Devils grounded and focusing on the 60 minutes that lie ahead of them this afternoon.
How to Win Game 3:
Stay out of the box which given the horrible calls made by the referees this post-season in every series, that isn’t very easy to do. Don’t give the refs anything easy to call. The Devils made 4 trips to the box the other night and the Rangers got 2 goals from it. Yes, 1 was a wacky MSG bounce off the boards and the other was a perfect screen in front.
Speaking of screens, try to help Marty out and clear out the path in front of him. If Kreider isn’t there the other night, the Rangers never score that second PP goal.
The Devils were superior in the face-off circle winning 32 out of 59. More of the same please…
The book is out on Lundqvist that his weakness is the high glove. We shouldn’t always shoot there but we should do it more than I think we do. Look at Kovy’s PP goal the other night..high glove, NO CHANCE WHAT-SO-EVER.
Keep trying to get traffic in front. Two great deflections became the difference maker in Game 2.
Fore-check, Fore-check and Fore-check some more.
I would love nothing more than to run the Rangers out of the building but I am also realistic in seeing that it probably won’t happen. NY has played A LOT of close games in these playoffs and we should get used to the stressful, nail biters that Game 2 was.
A lot has been made of John Tortorella and his approach to the post-game interview (or even the in-game interview that they do). He’s not going to answer questions and we should just get used to that. Yes, I think it’s a jerky thing to do because the media guys are just trying to do a job and get answers for their fans and all they are met with is a guy who likes to give them absolutely nothing. If you watched the other night, you knew immediately by the snarky look on his face that he wasn’t going to answer squat. I give DeBoer a lot of credit in his post-game interviews. He may not answer the questions very thoroughly at times but he answers them while not giving away the game plan. Of course, when the Rangers lose, all of Tortorella’s tactics have people talking about his post-game interviews instead of talking about how poorly the Rangers played so maybe that is the purpose. The point is, the media should stop focusing on his press conferences all together and focus on the team. It’s like Torts has put bounties on player’s heads. Oh well, whatever, he still comes off like a d-bag.
Game 2… time to right the ship and shut those Rangers fans up. Yesterday was pretty unbearable when it came to hearing the Rangers fan yapping at us all day long and verbally attacking players kids on Twitter. Congrats, you won game 1, be gracious about it, it’s only 1 game, not the series. There is plenty of hockey still to be played.
Peter Deboer, who is constantly being asked about shot blocking, mentioned during his press conference yesterday that shot blocking is not the story of the series. It’s hard to agree or disagree with that statement but we can’t allow it to be the story of the series. It was certainly the story of the night after Game 1 because the Rangers did so well blocking shots. Hopefully the coaches came up with a game plan and watched some Capitals tape on how to combat the constant shot blocking of the New York Rangers. It can be overcome. Shot blocking isn’t going to be the be all end all of winning hockey games.
Since I am on the subject of shot blocking, I’ll throw my 2 cents into the conversations going on. Listen to hockey broadcasts, radio programs and podcasts, everyone is talking about it. Yes, it makes the game boring, something I’m sure Ranger fans will never admit to. I mean did we admit to the Neutral Zone trap being boring? No, it won hockey games and that to us wasn’t boring. Same thing for Rangers fans but this talk about how to get it out of the game, not sure we should be going that far. The only problem I have with it is that it does make for a boring hockey game but if guys want to throw their bodies in front of slap shots, go ahead. That’s a lot to ask a player to do because injuries are certainly possible. I don’t think I could ever do it intentionally but then again, I’m not a professional hockey player. I do fear that someday real soon, a guy is going to take a slapper to the face which will certainly make this a hot ticket debate. In due time, teams will figure out how to get around the shot blockers.
As for the Devils getting around the blockers in this series, I am certainly missing a guy like Brian Rafalski right now. He had the ability to take a (get my Boston accent out) wicked wrister (or should that be wicket wrista??) from the blue line and have it find its way through or find a defection on its way to the net. Maybe someone on the Devils can find a way to channel Brian Rafalski? The Devils could do a better job faking shots, waiting for the blocker to slide out of the way before taking the shot, although the Rangers have layers of shot blockers. The one true method that worked for Washington was quickly and effectively moving the puck around the entire real estate of zone. Not to take anything away from Lundqvist, because he is a good goalie but if the defense in front of him didn’t block so many shots, would he be just as good as he appears now? Ilya Bryzgalov probably would have come away with a shutout the other night if he had that type of shot blocking in front of him.
We will need to get more out of every player on the ice tonight. The Devils didn’t do a great job with the execution of whatever game plan they had. One major sticking point for me the other night was that Parise and Kovalchuk both allowed Ryan Mcdonagh to break up two good scoring chances, which is something they never let happen against Philly. Zidlicky, Greene and Salvador, 3 players that were crucial in our wins over Florida and Philadelphia had horrible performances in Game 1. Fix it!! I expect the ice to be just as bad tonight and hopefully NJ does to.
No way is this series close to being over. The Devils will bounce back if they just keep doing the things they’ve done up to this point. Really throw the forecheck at them tonight. The Rangers have a bad habit of coughing up the puck in their end which will give us chances but they have to capitalize on them. Hopefully NJ does a better job at winning face-offs in the Rangers zone as well. The Rangers have played two tough series up to this point and fatigue is certainly being questioned at this point. If they aren’t tired now, let’s make them tired.
Get Game 2 and take this series back to NJ where the game plan changes a bit.
Changes that you may see tonight, which were hinted at in the morning skate are: Parise, Zajac and Kovalchuk being reunited as the Devils top line and Peter Harold being inserted into the lineup and rookie defenseman Adam Larsson getting the healthy scratch. I have no problem with the change to the top line but I don’t understand the constant need to sit Larsson
We in the US get the NBC feed who, don’t get me wrong, is far better than it was but in Canada, they get the CBC feed who puts time and effort into their pregame presentations. This was the video before game 1 the other night. I don’t know how often they do these for the conference finals, I know they do them before each game in the finals but everyone they do, I will post right here for the next game.
Well that didn’t go exactly as we had hoped. I wasn’t 100% confident that we could go in there and win Game 1 but I did think that we would have generated a little more offense than we did. We knew the Rangers do a great job at blocking shots but even though we knew it, it’s still so frustrating to see. I’m not going to take anything away from Lundqvist, he is a good goalie but if the guys in front of him aren’t blocking so many shots, how good is he? I’d like to pepper him with rubber so that we can find the answer to that question.
The reality is that the Devils gave themselves a chance after the first two periods but somewhere between the end of the 2nd and the beginning of the 3rd the team got sloppy. After a 0-0 tie through 2, I was worried that 1 mistake was going to result in the winner and the Devils made the mistake. They forgot about Girardi who came off the bench and just fired home a slapper from the blue line. After that, the wheels just kind of came off.
It’s just 1 game. We made some mistakes, we have things to fix but it’s just 1 game. We’ve been down a game in the playoffs before and have always responded well. I think DeBoer will make the right adjustments needed to get the Devils back into this.
Some more quick thoughts:
Zidlicky has to get his head in the game. He was an important part of the first two series but last night I saw him make mistake after mistake. I’d even say the same about Salvador.
The ice conditions were bad. There isn’t much more to say than that. Hopefully NJ can figure out a way to deal with it because I can’t imagine it improves drastically for game 2.
Patrik Elias took a puck to the face in the first period and his nose got busted open. He opted to stay on the bench, have gauze sticks jammed up his nose to stop the bleeding and get back out on the ice. Tough as nails. It’s a shame we couldn’t find a way to fight like that on the ice.
Kovalchuk had three shot on net last night, including what was likely Lundqvist's biggest stop of the night. However, I can’t say that Kovalchuk had a great game when he missed the net six times. Need more from him at this time of year.
I felt that the Devils were trying to rush things a bit and the ice conditions made the rushing really sloppy. Pucks were bouncing over sticks, passes weren’t being completed. Trying to push the tempo of the game is fine but you need to control the puck first. Don’t think you can keep a puck along the boards in the zone with just your stick, get your whole body in front of it.
The Devils held Brad Richards to 0 shots on net tonight and remember, he’s the guy who was leading the postseason in shots on net so that's is definitely something to build on. Gaborik had four shots but none of them found twine so that is a positive as well. Girardi got lucky and I’ll give him that shot a 1000 more times.
The Rangers iced the puck so much last night it’s a shame NJ couldn’t capitalize on it. Zajac went 11-21 in the faceoff circle while Elias and Henrique both wen 5-15. Losing the faceoff battle never helps a team win a game.
The Devils need to get more pucks on Lundqvist. Parise and Kovy led the team in shots on net in Game 1 but they didn’t get a lot there. We need more from Elias, Clarkson, Zubrus, Henrique, etc.
The bottom line is a 3-0 loss to the hatred Rangers is never a good feeling and I think today will be full of feeling crappy and putting up with gloating Rangers fans who are acting like the Canyon of Heroes parade is this afternoon (I came into work to find doughnuts in the kitchen because of the win) but it’s not the end of the world. There is a lot more hockey to be played. So until tomorrow when we can right this ship, hang in there Devils fans!!
The war begins tonight and I use the word war because that is exactly what this is. A war, a battle against the two teams divided by one river whose fan base literally hates one another. This is going to be an intense series, both on the ice for the players and off the ice for the fans.
Can the Devils win? The one thing the regular season proved is that these two teams are evenly matched. Everyone wants to talk (well mostly Rangers fans) how the Rangers were one win away from the President’s Trophy. Well, the Rangers only finished 7 points ahead of the Devils and there were plenty of games that the Devils left points on the ice this season. 7 points is NOTHING and that stat really means nothing.
The important thing to remember going into game 1 is that the Devils need to relax. It’s one game, the series can neither be won or lost tonight. I would like NJ to come away from MSG with at least 1 game in their win column and certainly would love to see it tonight but one game doesn’t win us anything.
I believe the Devils are the better team 5-on-5 so NJ will need to play disciplined hockey between the whistles. Don’t get involved in the stuff after the whistle and don’t give the refs any easy calls (I’m talking to you Zidlicky, keep the puck in the rink!!). Try not to get too frustrated at the Rangers ability to block shots and just keep plugging away at the net.
All eyes will be on Marty Brodeur, the man considered the best goalie this league has ever seen vs Henrik Lundqvist, the upcoming man who might have the tools needed to knock Marty off that throne someday. The other heroes in this series will played by guys you don’t expect. The top stars on both teams will be held in check but the opposition so for NJ, it comes down to guys like Clarkson, Zubrus and Henrique to get the job done.
Rangers fans are throwing this tweet at us today:
Bad news for NJ. #6 seeds are 0-4 in ECF history (circa 1994). Last 3 #6 seeds lost in 4 or 5 games.
The Devils head to Philly tonight, leading the series 3-1 and look to put the final nail in the Flyers coffin. Anyone that follows this rivalry knows that we should see a very desperate and physical Flyers team. In the 4 games that have been played so far this series, I don’t think we’ve seen the Flyers team that knocked off the cup favorite Penguins in round 1. In fact, the Flyers have been playing stupid hockey and have been making the same mistakes that they forced Pittsburgh into making in round 1. I am prepared to see a battle tonight.
There are two big story lines going into tonight’s matchup. The first being that the Flyers are facing elimination, which most people didn’t believe would happen after their domination of the Penguins in round 1. The second being that if the Flyers are going to escape elimination tonight, they are going to have to do it without their leading scorer Claude Giroux, who will be serving a 1 game suspension for his hit on Zubrus in Game 4.
Thoughts on Giroux: Honestly, I was a little surprised. I thought he’d get nothing more than a fine being that he’s an important player and typically you don’t see that caliber of player suspended this far into a series, but Shanahan continues to make us guess at what he might do in any situation. I don’t disagree with Shanny, the hit targeted the head and Giroux was certainly being a baby on the ice prior to the hit but I am surprised he would suspend the team’s best player in an elimination game. I also don’t think it is going to matter much. The Flyers were either going to have their best player on the ice tonight if he didn’t get a suspension or as the case is now, I expect a team to rally around the feeling that they got a raw deal. Either way, the Flyers are going to bring it tonight.
Thoughts on the Devils: What can I say about this team? They just need to keep on doing what they’ve been doing. They played an amazing game on Sunday night and I really have a hard time picking out the things they did wrong. Yes, they need to stay out of the box but the PK looks a lot better this series. Yes, they sat back a little in the 3rd which is something they can’t do tonight. The crowd was amazing on Sunday night, the loudest I’ve ever heard but we don’t have that tonight since the Flyers are at home.
In order to win this game tonight, each Devil will have to do their part. Don’t expect your line mate is going to do it for you. Play as a team, communicate with each other and play a full 60 minutes.
I know its a football movie but I love the line....
There was a lot of talk about Kovalchuk missing Game 2 both before and during the game on Tuesday. By the end of the game all that seemed to matter was that the Devils went into Philly, stayed focused and came away with a 4 goal 3rd period and knocked off the Flyers 4-1 which evened the series at 1 game a piece as this series shifts to the Prudential Center for games 3 & 4.
I've been preaching all playoffs that this time of year isn't neccesarily about the superstars. The opposition puts so much focus on stopping guys like Parise, Kovalchuk and Elias that you need other guys to step up. That's exactly how it played out Tuesday with Larsson, Clarkson and Zajac scoring keys goals for the Devils.
I've watched Peter Laviolette for a number of years now. He's an animated coach with a short fuse. I would imagine that Tuesday loss has to be keeping him awake at night. Exepct Philly to come out with a lot more "jam" tonight.
The Flyers are more successful in the playoffs when they don't score first. What happens tonight? You can't just sit back and let the other team score first.
Space Cadet Bryzgalov had an outstanding first two periods the other night before everything just fell apart. How does he bounce back?
We saw at the end of Game 2 that Philly wanted to try and start being a little more physical. Expect more of that tonight. It's what helped them in Round 1. Devils need to be prepared but also need to play their game.
Staying out of the box is unrealistic as these refs like to call penalties that are extremely borderline. The Devils did a great job on the PK in Game 2 and need to continue that trend in Game 3.
The game shifts to New Jersey which means the Devils control the matchups. Does DeBoer change the strategy of what matchups he was given in Philly? The Flyers are a great road team so this is where DeBoer earns his paycheck.
1. Claude Giroux - He was quiet in game 2 but he was a huge part of the success in Round 1. He won't stay quiet for long, or at least will try not to stay quiet.
2. Ilya Bryzgalov - How does he respond. Game 2 was kind of like the way his season has been. Great start followed up by a complete breakdown. Is his psyche shattered? Is he too worried about bears, who lost more monkeys in space or that the "universe is huMANGous beeg"
3. Wayne Simmonds - We saw him running his mouth and getting in faces at the end of Game 2. I'm actually surprised it took that long. I'm sure he will do his best to get under the skin of some Devils tonight.
1. Travis Zajac - Right now, he's on the top of my list when it comes to the Devils MVP in the post-season. He's scored some clutch goals and he seems to be the type of player that the other team overlooks.
2. Adam Larsson - So first postseason game under his belt and shared in the role of being a hero as his game tying goal seemed to be the key to opening the flood gates. First playoff game is an emotional ride, how does he respond in game 2?
3. Marty Brodeur - He's been stellar since Game 6 of the first round. The Devils need him to continue with this kind of play if they stand a shot at getting to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Scott Hartnell-Claude Giroux-Jaromir Jagr Brayden Schenn-Danny Briere-Wayne Simmonds Matt Read-James van Riemsdyk-Jakub Voracek Max Talbot-Sean Couturier-Eric Wellwood
Kimmo Timonen-Matt CarleBraydon Coburn-Nicklas GrossmannAndreas Lilja-Marc-Andre Bourdon
Ilya Bryzgalov Sergei Bobrovsky
Zach Parise-Patrik Elias-David Clarkson Petr Sykora-Travis Zajac-Dainius Zubrus Alexei Ponikarovsky-Adam Henrique-Steve Bernier Ryan Carter-Stephen Gionta-Ilya Kovalchuk
Andy Greene-Mark Fayne Bryce Salvador-Marek Zidlicky Anton Volchenkov-Adam Larsson
Marty Brodeur Johan Hedberg
** this is what happened in the morning skate. Time will tell if Kovalchuk plays tonight. I'm sure he's a game time decision **
Flyers will win if … If they can bring up the tempo and the physicallity of the game. Brodeur can be beaten if they create traffic and the occasional bump in the crease, we saw that in Game 1.
Devils will win if... they keep up with the Penalty Killing. I thought most of the losses in Round 1 were due to allowing the Panthers momentum from power play success. We saw Philly gain momentum in Game 1 when they scored on the PP as well suffered when they went 0/5 in Game 2.
Don't fall into the trap that Pittsburgh fell into when Philly started getting chippy with them.
Here we go…GAME 2!! It’s been a pretty busy morning around the New Jersey Devils as they prepare for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers. News came out this morning that Ilya Kovalchuk will be out of tonight’s game with an undisclosed injury. This, only days after telling reporters that he was fine. I said it early into the Panthers series that he didn’t look himself, that it was more than playoff nerves. Hopefully, it’s not too serious and he will get back out there soon.
There are a few problems with Kovalchuk out of the lineup. The most obvious is that the power play will now be missing one of its point men. Zidlicky will have to make up for that loss but not having to defend Kovalchuk’s slapper from the point is certainly an advantage for any penalty killing unit. The second is that the Devils will need to replace the minutes that belong to Kovalchuk and I certainly don’t know how they are going to do that. Finally, Laviolette’s job just got easier because he can concentrate on his matchups against Parise and Elias a little more closely. Kovy hasn’t put a lot of pucks in the net but certainly a key piece to this team.
Here are the lines we will probably be looking at tonight:
So Larsson will make his playoff debut because Harrold moves up to the 4th offense, Bernier to the 3rd line in order to move Clarkson up to the first line. What???? I’m very curious as to what DeBoer sees in Harrold to think that he should be playing defense in any series, can make the transition from Offense to Defense. Part of me thinks that he just threw names against the wall to see what would stick in order to make tonight’s line combinations. One thing is clear in my mind, this game is about Marty stealing us a win.
Things I want to see tonight:
STAY OUT OF THE BOX. The one thing I have learned in these playoffs is that a great PK during the regular season means absolutely nothing. We continue to lose games because we give the opposition opportunities up a man.
Get the pucks on net. A lot of people are picking Philly to win the cup but I don’t see how they can when Bryzgalov lets in so many goals he shouldn’t. It’s the playoffs, no way Sykora should have been able to put the tying goal home the other night.
Survive the second period. I don’t know what else to say but the second period has been a place that we’ve let a lot of teams back into the game.
Take it shift by shift. Especially with the line juggling, it’s important to remember to take it shift by shift.
Tonight is important because I really don’t want to go back to the Rock down 2-0 to a very confident Flyers team.
With Kovy back home in NJ, I guess Braydon Schenn’s jaw is safe!!