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:
Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Petr Sykora - Travis Zajac - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Adam Henrique - Steve Bernier
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Peter Harrold
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Adam Larsson
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
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!!