Eight down, eight to go! The New Jersey Devils are headed to the Eastern Conference Finals! Our team has proved all the non-believers wron yet again; the underdog has risen and boy oh boy, are we rising! Tomorrow night on NBC Sports Network, we may in fact discover our opponent. If the New York Rangers can close out Alexander Ovechkin and the Caps in Washington, we will pack our bags and resume the Hudson River Rivalry. If Brayden Holtby has other things planned, and can manage to steal a game away from New York, the teams' fate will be decided in a second straight Game 7 for both the Rags & the Caps.
Tonight I am writing a shorter recap, primarily focusing on "my thoughts" of the game, but, for now, let us bask in the glory of the accomplishment this team has done.
After getting scored on in the first period, for the 4th straight game, the Devils would take FULL CONTROL and take charge of the game. After every big hit by Philadelphia, the Devils' players would get right back up on their horse and go! I liked the whole, persona of the squad in this one. Their mind was in right place for the full 60 minutes... ON THE ICE. One minor penalty, two even strength goals, and a powerplay goal would be in the Devils' side of the boxscore. This is ideal. They've shown what needs to be done to get into the next round and what that is is to play with your head, not, your heart. I tend to use Philadelphia as an example of a team that plays with their heart. They're a ruthless group of players who act without thought; this afterthought mentallity ultimately came back to bite them in the a** in this series. Devils defensemen stayed focused. Fayne, & Zidlicky in my opinion really came through big in the Semifinals and Im expecting big things from these two in the E.C.F.
Im exceptionally confident in this group of men. They play together, one game at a time. Confident, determined, driven, united. Goals by Salvador & Bryzgalov, (lol, it was credited to Clarkson), and a powerplay goal by Kovalchuk would hammer that final nail in the coffin of Philadelphia forward, number 19, Yukon Cornelius & his Band of Bullies, leaving the rest of their week open for early tee times. Brodeur was, as expected, clutch in big situations like he was been his entire career, along with strong leadership by Devils captain Zach Parise & alternate captain, Ilya Kovalchuk. The two have combined for a total of 9 goals, 11 assists for 20 points. A total of 86 shots from these two, 51 of them from Zach are evidence that these two are striving for the back of the net night after night, which makes the oppositions job that much more difficult. Unlike Mr. Universe, A.K.A.
As for the next New Jersey Devils game, a date will be determined in due time. Keep up to date with MORE New Jersey Devils playoff news right here! Be sure to check out our "RWTD" app for iPhone & Android! As for social networking, we have our outlets as well! Follow us on twitter at: @RWTDblog @DEVIN88MATTERA, @RealScottRobb and @Rvaidya33. Along with twitter, be sure to check out our facebook page or find us on Instagram, "rwtdblog". Be sure to hashtag #RWTD ! From all of us here on Running With The Devils, Im Devin Mattera, (recapping yet ANOTHER series clincher), you stay classy Devils Fans!
It’s safe to say, we had momentum coming into this game and well, we still have it! Maybe it’s a bit higher now that the Devils have a commanding 3-1 series lead! We very well knew that the Flyers would give it their all to try and tie up the series at 2. But hey, let’s not forget that they’re playing the NEW JERSEY DEVILS so anything the Flyers have “to say” means nothing and it was certainly proved tonight by the Devils’ performance.
I’m glad these games are being televised nationally because the Devils are taking advantage of this gift effectively. It was a very fast-paced game in the first 5 minutes! Though that was the case, New Jersey had the edge in all the important stats, except goals because Ilya Bryzgalov bailed the Flyers out on many Devils chances. This forced Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette (I just realized both Philly’s and NJ’s coaches first names start with Peter) to call a timeout at the 15:28 point. To be honest though, that didn’t have much of an effect on the Flyers until they were awarded a power play opportunity at the 11:05 point. Travis Zajac was called for interference but the penalty kill responded well! I’m surprised how the Devils PK was slapped in the face by the Florida Panthers but somehow returned back to its best-PK-in-the-NHL form against the Flyers (it must be effect of national TV!). Things really got interesting when Marek Zidlicky (aka Bum) took an interference penalty to give the Flyers their second power play of the game at the 8:17 point. 7 seconds after the faceoff, Flyers forward Scott Hartnell (who is in desperate need for a haircut if you ask me) tipped in a shot from teammate Claude Giroux. Hartnell’s 3rd of the playoffs was assisted by Giroux and Kimmo Timonen. Still, the Devils had a bit more control of the game. At the 6:33 point, Flyers defenseman Andreas Lilja took a tripping penalty to give the Devils their first power play opportunity. The first 13 seconds proved to be disastrous as Giroux swooped down off the faceoff to the Devils’ zone with the puck and backhanded one past Marty Brodeur. Giroux’s shorty was his 8th of the playoffs, assisted by Max Talbot. However, the power play was still on and eventually, the Devils cashed in! Petr Sykora just got one past Bryzgalov! Sykora’s power play goal at the 4:46 point was his 2nd of the playoffs, assisted by Bryce Salvador and Zajac. Now the Devils grabbed control of their chances yet Bryzgalov stopped most of NJ’s chances. He wasn’t so lucky with 1:51 left to play in the first when guess who? That’s right – it’s Bum, who redirected a great pass from Salvador to beat Bryzgalov! Zidlicky’s 1st of the playoffs was assisted by Salvador and Ilya Kovalchuk. With only 1:28 left to play, the unkempt Hartnell took a goalie interference penalty, giving the Devils another power play. They did not score but shots-on-goal after one were 16-7 in favor of NJ!
New Jersey opened up the period with 32 seconds of power play time. Decent amount of pressure but no goals. The Devils were firing many shots at will and many reached Bryzgalov. That’s the type of hockey you wanna see the Devils play in these playoffs! But the crowd was a bit too quiet, so, to reenergize them, Tim Sestito, who filled in for an injured Ryan Carter on the Devils’ 4th line, delivered a huge hit on Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn. It energized the crowd and hopefully fans back at home too because my dad and I were jumping! At the 14:48 point, Flyers forward Sean Couturier (who came back from an injury) took a delay-of-game penalty by clearing the puck over the glass. The ensuing power play was a disappointment. While there were some shots that reached Bryzgalov, the Flyers cleared the puck for the majority of the time. They never capitalized on the advantage but the Devils continued to work hard. You’ve gotta feel bad for Steve Bernier though, who had 2 great chances to bear Bryzgalov at the 11:17 and 10:25 point respectively. This game could have (and should have) been 4-2 but Philadelphia has a talented goalie who is honestly difficult to solve. After 13 minutes of play in the period, the Flyers were shotless! Either that’s great presence from the boys in red and black or a complete malfunction from the outlaws in white and orange. Eventually though they broke that and had some scary chances to go up 3-2. Devils defense and Marty proved to be sharp and their efforts were rewarded. Dainius Zubrus shot the puck top-shelf on Bryzgalov to give the Devils a 3-2 lead! They finally solved him! Zubrus’ 2nd of the playoffs was assisted by Adam Henrique and Sykora at the 2:13 point. With only 40 seconds to play, the Devils were ery sloppy in their zone and nearly gave up a tying goal but the preserved their 3-2 lead heading into the locker room. Before the period ended however (about 3.6 seconds left), Giroux elbowed Zubrus in the head, which sent Zubrus down on the ice in pain. That kind of play is unheard of from a superstar player and it’s simply a cheap shot. While it was only a 2 minute minor, you be the judge and see the play for yourself here http://bit.ly/J4FSaz if Giroux deserves more than a minor (I’m thinking a Shanaban?). Nonetheless, the Devils finished the second period with shots-on-goal in their favor 32-12!
Luckily, Zubrus was okay and the Devils started the period with 1:57 of power play time due to Giroux’s head contact penalty (honestly I’ve never heard that one before). There wasn’t any goal scored but it was pretty entertaining to see Kovalchuk head butting the puck in the air to prevent an offside. While the linesmen called it offside anyway, the fans got a good laugh out of it. Perhaps Kovy can try out for the New York Red Bulls, who only play 5 minutes away from The Rock, after hockey season. Maybe someday however, hockey was the prime area of focus and the Devils used their timeout wisely at the 17:48 point because Kovalchuk and several players were a bit too casual with the puck. Just before the 14 minute mark, Marty made a big stop down low on Flyers forward Jake Voracek. This period, the Flyers scared me with their chances because the Devils played too defensively. The best offensive chance for NJ, in my opinion, came with 4:14 left to play. It was an entertaining chance too, when David Clarkson batted down the puck near the Flyers’ blue line and shot the puck aimlessly. Somehow that reached Bryzgalov, who was forced to cover it up. To save the Flyers’ dream of winning this game, Timonen took a holding penalty to stop Henrique from rushing any further towards Bryzgalov. The ensuing power play for New Jersey was decent but I would’ve loved to see a goal. This was because after the Flyers killed the penalty along with a half of minute of Devils pressure, Philadelphia was able to pull Bryzgalov with under a minute to go. Shortly after though, Zubrus came through and though being interfered with by a Flyer on his tail, he put the icing on the cake with an empty netter! That gave New Jersey a 4-2 lead with 45 seconds left. Zubrus’ 3rd of the playoffs and 2nd of the game was assisted by Mark Fayne and Brodeur! With 23 seconds left, the Flyers pulled Bryzgalov again and it seemed like the Devils got another empty netter just as time expired but that was it! The Devils held on and won 4-2! Shots-on-goal for the game were a well-deserved 43-22 in favor of NJ. This series is now 3-1 in favor of our beloved New Jersey Devils, who will attempt to close this out in Philadelphia in Game 5! Let’s go Devils!
- Bum (Zidlicky)
Next Game: Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 Game 5: Devils @ Flyers 7:30 P.M. on NBC Sports Network.
Key Notes: From everyone here at Running With The Devils, A HAPPY 40th BIRTHDAY TO MARTY BRODEUR! What a birthday present indeed, to beat the Philadelphia Flyers in front of the Devils Army! It was well deserved too, as Marty is now 2-2 on games played on his birthday. Overall, this was win #106 for him and he’s the only goalie to start as a teenager and as a 40 year old! Props to him and the sellout crowd at the Prudential Center of 17,625 for witnessing that!
For all the latest Devils news, follow us on twitter: @RWTDblog, @Rvaidya33, @RealScottRobb, and @DEVIN88MATTERA and you can like us on our Facebook page!
Two words: Alexei Ponikarovsky. Sure, I've been hard on him all season long, but he sure did step up in a big way tonight. Ponikarovsky sent the Devils to victory with the game-winning goal 17:21 into overtime. Devils' star Ilya Kovalchuk played a huge part in the win tonight, with a goal and two assists. New Jersey skates into Sunday's game with a 2-1 series lead and a whole lot of momentum.
Things started off rather gloomy for the Devils tonight. Adam Henrique took a tripping penalty just 4:48 into the game and gave the Flyers the first power play opportunity of the evening. Brayden Schenn capitalized on the chance and put the Flyers up 1-0 just a minute and twenty seconds later. It looked like Martin Brodeur could have saved the shot, but after a moment of hesitation from Marty, the puck ended up in the back of the net. Patrik Elias had the answer for the Devils 12:33 into the opening period when he scored on the power play to tie the game at one. Just a short twenty seconds later, Ilya Kovalchuk fired one past Ilya Bryzgalov to put New Jersey up by one. The Devils continued to play smart hockey by staying out of the penalty box and took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.
This second period was one that Devils fans will want to forget. New Jersey seemed to lose some of their first period momentum and took a couple of penalties that could have been avoided. The officiating also took a turn for the worse in period number two. Ilya Kovalchuk was called for delay of game after he cleared the puck over the glass. However, after looking at the replay, it was clear that the puck was deflected over the boards; nonetheless, New Jersey was able to kill off the penalty--something they would have to do twice in overtime in order to win the game. Matt Carle scored his second goal of the playoffs 4:44 into the middle period to tie the game at two goals a piece.
Looking to rebound from their second period blunders, the Devils came out strong and appeared to have regained their first period energy. A great New Jersey forecheck lead to the tie-breaking goal from Zach Parise 7:29 into the third. Patrik Elias made a great pass while pinned in between two defenders and the boards to set up Parise. Zach then took the puck around the net and beat Bryzgalov through the five-hole to give the Devils a 3-2 lead. Shortly after, at 11:04 into the third, Danny Briere tied the game for Philadelphia on a rebound that should have been controlled by Brodeur. The Devils defense did a poor job of covering Briere, as he had a wide open path to the front of the net. Sixty minutes of hockey was not enough for these two teams tonight, as this game went into overtime tied at three goals a piece.
Yet again, the Devils had to battle not only the boys in orange and black, but also the boys in white and black. Dainius Zubrus was called for boarding 8:23 into the extra period on a questionable call from the officials. Zubrus did not leave his feet on the hit and the puck had just been played. The Devils were able to successfully kill off the penalty before Bryce Salvador was called for delay of game 12:29 in. The best penalty kill in NHL history apparently showed up for the game tonight, as New Jersey was successful again in killing off the penalty. Cue Alexei Ponikarovsky. Ilya Kovalchuk maintained possession of the puck in the neutral zone as Alexei Ponikarovsky jumped onto the ice. Philadelphia was caught in a line change and Poni skated in two-on-one. Poni shot the puck and collected his own rebound, back-handing the game winner into the back of the net. The goal horn sounded and the chant began...
- Ilya Kovalchuk was strong in his return to the line up tonight, collecting three points (1 G, 2 A). Without Kovy, this game could have been a LOT different for the Devils.
- The Devils penalty kill was strong once again tonight as they went 4-for-5. As strong as the Flyers power play is, a stat like this is key.
- Alexei Ponikarovsky finally produced a big-time goal for New Jersey. Maybe this will give the youngster some confidence heading into Sunday's game.
- Martin Brodeur looked a little shaky at times and let up some big time rebounds. If the Devils want to continue their success, Marty will have to keep his game under control and play like the veteran that he is.
- The Devils have been plagued by delay of game penalties in the playoffs. In order to win, New Jersey needs to stay out of the box. Taking stupid penalties such as delay of game is really discouraging.
- The officiating was horrible tonight. At times, it seemed like the referees were watching a completely different game. The Devils were able to overcome the poor officiating tonight; it looks like they will have to continue to do so as there has been NO improvement in officiating throughout the playoffs.
Above: Alexei Ponikarovsky #12 of the New Jersey Devils scores a goal in overtime to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center on May 3, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. The New Jersey Devils defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-4 in overtime. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Devils are back in action on Sunday night (7:30 PM) as they take on the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. I will see YOU at the Prudential Center as New Jersey looks to take a 3-1 series lead. For all of your latest Devils news, follow the @RWTDblog staff on twitter: @RealScottRobb, @DEVIN88MATTERA, and @Rvaidya33. You can also check us out on facebook, too. LET'S GO DEVILS... no comments
You couldn’t escape the fact that Ilya Kovalchuk wasn’t in the lineup last night, mainly because Pierre Maguire and Kenny Albert weren’t going to let us forget. Guess what, it didn’t matter. The Devils worked hard all night and found a way to get the job done. They kept their frustration levels in check as Bryzgalov seemed to answer everything the Devils threw at him in the first 2 periods.The Devils kept at it and eventually solved the Philly netminder and put 4 unanswered goals past him (ok, one was an empty net goal).
In his post-game interview, DeBoer was asked if he was surprised how the Devils responded without their sniper. “I really felt we would respond like this,” proud Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. “It’s not more than I expected. It is what I expected. I knew we’d be better than Game 1. I think there were some obvious reasons why we ran out of gas a little in Game 1. I knew we’d bounce back. We’ve dealt with adversity of injuries and things all year and I really felt that we’d have a great game tonight and we did.” The one thing the media seems to forget is that Kovalchuk isn’t the be all end all of this team.
I thought the Flyers did a good job matching up against Elias and Parise, like I had thought the missing Kovalchuk would allow them to do but tonight was about those next tier guys that you need to step up this time of year.
Larsson tied the game at 1-1 when he took a nice little dish from Zubrus and beat Bryzgalov high to the glove side. You had to feel good for Larsson who has been a healthy scratch for all of the playoffs so far. Yes he’s made his mistakes but he’s worked hard all year, gets inserted into the lineup when his team needs him the most and scores his first playoff goal in his first playoff game. He even made some nice breakout passes throughout the game.
We’ve been waiting for Clarkson to show up in the goal scoring column and like most of his goals this season, his first of the playoffs came in a huge spot. He passed the puck off to Parise and followed the play to the net, which resulted in a nice juicy rebound sitting there for him to drive home. Of course the goal was nothing compared to what happened after the goal as Clarkson somehow ended up on top of the net.
Zajac sealed the game when he took a Gionta rebound behind the net and beat Bryzgalov on a backhand wrap around before he could get over to the post. Salvador then put home a crazy, bouncing empty net goal from his own blue line to send the Philly faithful home.
Bryzgalov was the big story in the first two periods of this game but the Devils hard work and ability to overcome the frustration of a goalie standing on his head ended up being the bigger story by the end of the game. The series shifts to NJ knotted up at 1 a piece.
A few more quick thoughts on the game
- Once again the officiating was questionable. There were quite a few questionable calls, like the Giroux dropping the stick and Henrique getting a penalty for it.
- Speaking of penalties though, the Devils did a great job on the PK last night. Not sure what the difference was but there was a noticeable difference.
- I know the Devils fans were getting frustrated by the lack of scoring in the first 2 periods, especially when Henrique was denied in the slot, followed up by a Devils PP that put a lot of shots on net but none into the net. I keep talking about the Devils ability to just keep going and it really was amazing to watch.
- I’ve been hard on Harrold recently but give him credit, he looked decent out there last night. Not a Kovalchuk replacement by any means but he worked hard.
- You have to question the Kovalchuk injury at this point though. Is it serious, will he be back for game 3? If he is, how can you justify sitting Larsson?
- At the beginning of the game I thought the Devils needed to be more physical, questioned where that would come from but the Devils didn’t need to. They kept to the plan they had and in the end, it all worked. Good thing I’m not the coach!!
- Did the Flyers sit back too much? I would imagine they feel that they did and that we should expect a Flyers team with a lot more “let's fucking giddy up and go” than we saw last night. (Yea, I’ve been waiting to work in my favorite 24/7 line for quite some time now!!)
* - Travis Zajac - He's putting his name in the hat for the Devils MVP of the playoffs. 5 goals and 3 assists in 9 playoff games.
** - Adam Larsson - Solved the Philly goaltender and got the Devils rolling down the hill.
*** - David Clarkson - Put home the game winner and then gave with Internet plenty of material for some photoshop fun!!
Hello everyone and welcome to another addition Masala Monday. The last time I talked to you guys, our beloved New Jersey Devils were in a 3-2 series hole against the Florida Panthers. Well they came back strong and now are playing the Philadelphia Flyers in round 2 (but you guys all know that). I predicted that the players who were listed as spicy/stale would have an impact against Florida and indeed they did, sending us to round 2. Let’s take a look at how some players have stood out to me from Games 6 & 7 vs. Florida and Game 1 vs. Philadelphia.
Travis Zajac – Without a doubt Zajac deserves a spot here. After missing a majority of the season, Zajac came back strong and in these playoffs, he’s been the go-to guy. Devils fans will always remember him for that Game 6 overtime goal at The Rock that tied the series against Florida at 3. Though he didn’t score in Game 7, his presence was a force to be reckoned with. In Game 1 at Philadelphia in the 2nd period, Zajac swooped in and shot a puck that just trickled over the goal line past Ilya Bryzgalov. That goal tied the game at 2 and even though the Devils lost, Zajac’s team leading 4 goals and 7 points (add 3 assists) gives New Jersey the confidence they need to rebound and silence those critics.
Zach Parise – Captain Zach has been consistent throughout the playoffs. Of course, if you’re the captain of the team, you gotta be consistent. Otherwise, how do you expect the team to be consistent? Parise showed strong leadership through his selfless play in New Jersey’s comeback against Florida. In Game 1 at Philadelphia, Parise added a goal to give the Devils a 1-0 advantage. I just hoped we could’ve held that but the past is behind us. Parise has 3 goals and 3 assists (6 points) and if the Devils want to avoid the embarrassment from losing to the Flyers again, those numbers will have to (and I think they will) go up.
Adam Henrique – I didn’t put him here last time because I didn’t see much from him in the first 5 games against Florida. I’m amazed at what he did after. He created several chances in Game 6 and ultimately I thought that he would have something to say in Game 7. You gotta think he did more than just that! Opening the scoring AND closing the scoring…in double overtime?! Please, how can you not put him in the spicy category? Look for Henrique to play a pivotal role in New Jersey’s quest for glory.
The Devils 4th Line – How much can we say about these guys? Coach DeBoer trusts them beyond limits. We’ve seen this line of Steve Bernier-Ryan Carter-Stephen Gionta being matched with some of the top lines that both Florida and Philadelphia have to offer. In addition, they’ve fared well against them. I was truly impressed to see Gionta in particular, forecheck the way he did against the Briere line in Philly. He’s showing shades of his brother for sure. The 4th line currently has the most even strength goals for the Devils with 5.
Ilya Kovalchuk – Why Kovy why? I love this guy a lot and I look up to him in several ways. However, you can’t tell me that he’s suffering from an “injury” but then not know what it is. If there’s any injury, it’s a lack of heart. I remember NHL on NBC analyst Keith Jones ripping on Alex Radulov for his lazy play(http://bit.ly/Km7TVd). While Radulov was actually healthy, I’m sure Jones would’ve had an ample amount to say about Kovalchuk and his performance in these playoffs. He doesn’t seem that fast as of late and that Game 1 performance was just awful. I HOPE he can rebound but if he doesn’t, we need other guys to step up to the plate. Otherwise, we might as well just lock up our Devils gear until next October and trust me, I REALLY don’t want to do that.
Anton Volchenkov/Peter Harrold – What’s up with these guys? I haven’t seen a single amount of effort taken by these guys. Maybe a little bit by Volchenkov but they both make careless plays. In the case of Florida, it’s okay because they’re not as difficult a team compared to the Flyers. If there’s one thing we know about Philadelphia’s pro hockey team, it’s that they’re like crocodiles waiting for their prey to be just close enough for the kill. In this case the prey is the play of Volchenkov and Harrold and I seriously think it’s time to bench one of them and oh I don’t know…FREE LARSSON?!
Alex Ponikarovsky – Come on how does this guy even move up on the first line? If it’s because him and Kovalchuk speak the same language, that’s a big mistake because Ponikarovsky hasn’t done squat in the playoffs and I certainly don’t believe appeasing him to the first line will do any better for the team. Hockey is a team sport and Poni’s move to the first line will do more harm than good. That’s just my take though. He’s more effective on the 3rd line.
As a team? I actually would say the Devils are quite SPICY! Yes they had a big setback in the 4-3 OT loss to Philly. So what? Do we all not remember how they came back against Florida in style? Also do we not realize that the mental block we have had against the Flyers has most likely been destroyed? The Devils are back and if you don’t believe so, do share your views. Once again, I encourage your them! You all can send me your views/criticisms via commenting or via tweeting.
For all the latest Devils news, follow us on twitter: @RWTDblog, @Rvaidya33, @RealScottRobb, and @DEVIN88MATTERA and you can like us on our Facebook page! So long for now – I’m Raj Vaidya, and hopefully this spice wasn’t too hot to handle!no comments
Let’s all be honest here. Despite a slight advantage to Philly over the years, every Devil fan loves him/herself a Devils/Flyers match up. Well… we’ve got a playoff matchup against them now and it certainly did not start as per my needs. Game 1 of this Eastern Conference Semifinals between New Jersey and Philadelphia was one that Devils fans will want to forget forever.
Before the puck was even dropped, Cam Janssen was apparently warming up for the Devils (he didn’t play) for an intimidation factor I suppose. Coach Peter DeBoer also changed the lines up in an attempt to generate more offense (Alex Ponikarovsky moved up to the 1st line and captain Zach Parise moved down to the 2nd line). When the period started, I was amazed with what the Devils were doing in the first 3 minutes. To start against the Flyers like that was unbelievable. Just 3:16 into the game, Zach Parise brought me out of my seat with a shot that beat Ilya Bryzgalov down low! His 3rd goal of the playoffs was assisted by Patrik Elias, who made a great pass to set up Parise. Philadelphia forward Jake Voracek took a slashing penalty nearing the 16 minute point. I was very impressed with what the ensuing Devils power play had to offer. Though they couldn’t score, the Flyers didn’t seem to have any motive to stop New Jersey’s momentum. Midway through the period, the Devils had an 11-0 shots advantage but that was broken 2 seconds later when Marty Brodeur made a stop on a Flyer player coming up to him on his right. That got a sarcastic applause from the obnoxious and disrespectful Flyer crowd. After that shot however, I truly believe everything went Philadelphia’s way throughout the game. The Flyers got a lot more shots but the Devils had some fair chances in Philly’s zone (mainly because Bryzgalov was misplaying the puck many times). After one, shots-on-goal were a promising 15-6 in favor of NJ.
If I was forced to describe this period in one word, it would be unfathomable. It was simple up and down hockey but the Devils were icing the puck more than need be. I even lost count and in a playoff game, that’s definitely not something to be proud of. From this, the Flyers took advantage of all the chances they got, but Marty was there to save the day (his stop at the 15:15 point on Max Talbot and at the 12:50 point on Sean Couturier). A minute after the Couturier save however, things started to fall apart for the Devils. Voracek found an open teammate in Danny Briere and passed him the puck, which allowed Briere to go on a breakaway. I’m not quite sure why Marty went down so early and stacked his pads when Briere didn’t even move but Briere found an opening and put it by Brodeur. His 7th goal of the playoffs assisted by Voracek tied this game up at 1. Misery continued for the Devils just 37 seconds later. This time, Marty was truly to blame. He tried to play the puck but instead to the stick of a Devil, Philly defenseman Erik Gustafsson took it and passed it to an open teammate in James Van Riemsdyk (The Traitor), who scored on a wide open goal. Van Riemsdyk’s 1st goal of the playoffs was assisted by Gustafsson and suddenly the Flyers were up 2-1. Eric Wellwood of the Flyers took a tripping penalty but the Devils power play that ensued had no effect, in fact, it harmed the Devils more than it helped. Just 9 seconds after the power play expired and Wellwood came out of the box, Elias took a hooking penalty. I put my palms in my face at that moment because I was almost ready to give up on the game. Adam Henrique, however, reversed that expression on my face with a great shorthanded attempt, ultimately resulting in a penalty on Flyer defenseman Matt Carle at the 6:38 point. Ultimately after the 4-on-4, the Devils power play quickly cashed in! Travis Zajac, at the 6:07 point, came swooping in and shot the puck from a pass, which trickled over the goal line behind Bryzgalov! Zajac’s 4th of the playoffs were assisted by Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk and the Devils tied it at 2. Chances were pretty even after that, but the majority of those Flyers chances came off of turnovers from Marek Zidlicky. Shots-on-goal after two were 18-14 in favor of NJ.
Hardip Sidhu, a fellow Devils fan on twitter (@HardipGoDevils) tweeted before the game to “Hope for the best but expect the worst!” Well… that’s essentially what I was doing. I was HOPING the Devils could find a way to break this game open in the 3rd. Unfortunately, I just did not have that confidence in the Devils. We’ve all seen how they’ve performed in the 3rd as of late. All fans can do is pray. Knowing Devils fans and their prayers, they rarely get answered nowadays and the Flyers were ruling play for the majority of this period. There were several early chances by Philly that kept NJ on its heels. At the 16:10 point, Andy Greene took a hooking penalty. I was almost certain Kovalchuk would go off at the same time for whacking the Flyer player on the throat – thank goodness he didn’t. Well, there wasn’t really any reason to thank anybody on the ensuing power play, when Claude Giroux one-timed a rocket top shelf on Marty. Giroux’s 7th of the playoffs assisted by Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell came 19 seconds into the power play. I was essentially speechless because not only did the Flyers keep puck possession, but they eclipsed the Devils in shots! Still, I was sensing a miracle. Just a few seconds after the 9 minute mark, Philadelphia called a timeout, which greatly helped NJ. 20 seconds after the timeout, Petr Sykora, with great poise and patience, scored on Bryzaglov’s 5-hole on a breakaway! This game was tied at 3! Sykora’s 1st of the playoffs was assisted by David Clarkson. That didn’t stop the Flyers from getting the 4th goal though. Kovy turned the puck over a lot and that resulted in some scary chances for Philly. At the 6:18 point, Marty tried to play the puck behind the net but DROPPED HIS STICK! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I’m thankful that there was a defenseman there otherwise things could have turned out pretty ugly. The Devils called a timeout with 3:39 to give the players some rest. The Flyers responded later with chances from Van Riemsdyk and Briere but no goals were scored. We were headed into overtime…again. Shots-on-goal after regulation were a shocking 29-22 in favor of Philadelphia.
The Devils were heading into overtime for the 3rd consecutive playoff game in a row. That’s the first time they did that in franchise playoff history. Could they make it 3 for 3 though? From the first 30 seconds I probably wouldn’t say so. That’s when Zidlicky (aka Bum) took a delay of game penalty. If you all recollect, Bum did this in Florida during game 7 in the waning minutes of the 3rd period, which allowed Florida to tie the game at 2. Here, the Flyers had a chance to win it. I thought the game was over on this power play when Briere “scored” at the 17:47 mark. We have this love for video replay though and it showed that Briere kicked the puck in. No Goal was the call! A minute later, Ponikarovsky almost won it for NJ but the loose puck near Bryzgalov was cleared out. It only took a shot from the point to beat Brodeur unfortunately. That shot was taken by guess who… Briere. You could make an argument that Van Riemsdyk interfered with Marty but to be honest I saw nothing. Briere’s 7th of the playoffs assisted by Voracek and Carle gave the Flyers the 4-3 win at the 15:24 point. Shot-on-goal for the game were a miserable 36-26 in favor of Philadelphia. Complete bummer.
- Danny Briere
- James Van Riemsdyk
- Zach Parise
Next Game: Game 2 Devils @ Flyers May 1st, 2012: 7:30 PM on NBC Sports Network
It was great news to me that the New Jersey Devils got to play a game on NBC for the first time in 5 years! In addition, I was excited to hear Doc Emrick call the game. Unfortunately, including the game today, the Devils have not won a game this season when Doc calls it. The last time the Devils knocked the Flyers out of the playoffs, they won the cup (2000). However the last couple of times the two teams played off against each other, Philadelphia won both meetings in 5 games (2004, 2010). Thankfully NJ doesn’t have to worry about those infamous rats anymore but keep in mind that a smoke bomb was thrown in 2008 in Philly. Anything can happen. Anyone notice what happened before the 3rd period? There was a problem with Marty’s goal post. 19,972 was the attendance but 19,900 of them had to be Flyers fans and when they saw that they chanted “Marty”. Yeah, it’s totally Brodeur’s fault for a dysfunctional goal post right? The majority of Flyers fans have absolutely no class and I’m not expecting them to conform into class acts anytime soon. The one good thing about this game was that the Devils PK went 5/6.
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THEY DID IT! New Jersey advances! 83:47 minutes of play time, a game that'd lapse into the early goings of Friday morning concluding with a dramatic 2OT goal from Calder Trophy candidate Adam Henrique would be the deciding factor in a Game 7 between the Florida Panthers and your New Jersey Devils. From the opening faceoff, you could tell this team had momentum carrying over from Game 6. The game, I believe, was won by the veteran experience in net by Martin Brodeur, aided by the youthful energy present in Adam Henrique throught the length of the game.
Scoring BOTH, the first, and last goal, Adam Henrique would manage to scathe his way into the path of a drive from the blue line, redirecting a blast off the stick of defenseman Anton Volchenkov into the net past Panthers goaltender Jose Theodore. Henrique's goal in the first was scored 90 seconds in, a tip-in from Volchenkov and Clarkson even strength to put Jersey on the board. In wake of Adam's goal, the penalty box would recieve visits from both Bryce Salvador and Erik Gudbranson at 6:04 for roughing, followed up a minute later by Dmitry Kulikov from Florida giving New Jersey the man advantage, a 4 on 3 for a few ticks of the clock until the off setting minors would clear, resulting in a successful PK by the Cats. Three minutes later, Clarkson would take two in the sin bin for a rather questionable "diving" call after being CLOSELINED by Ed Jovanovski, who, as well, would sit two for holding at 10:39 of the first period, just over the half way point of the 1st. In the closing minutes of period one, Salvador would take a breather again, in the penalty box when he was called for interference at 17:20; New Jersey killed off the powerplay. Brodeur would push aside all 12 shots faced in the opening 20 as his cross-ice-opponent Jose Theodore, would stop 8 of 9. The Devils stuck to the basic idea of applying pressure right out of the gate, scoring early, and taking little to no penalties. New Jersey 1-0 Florida.
Believe it or not, New Jersey WOULDNT blow the lead here in the dreaded second period. Normally, this is where I feel a sense of depression while watching the games; knowing the Devils' track record in second periods this season. Like I said, believe it or not, New Jersey would SCORE here! Another rookie this time, one with quite a familiar last name for that matter, Stephen Gionta would punch in his 2nd goal of the playoffs (1st goal coming back in a 4-3 loss to Florida in G3) and his 3rd goal of his young NHL career since being called up from the Albany Devils. With no penalties here this period, Baby Gio's goal would be the lone, outstanding marker on the period's box score. Gionta's goal would be clocked in at 9:15 of the second period from rookie blue liner Peter Harrold and Ryan Carter, even strength, to give New Jersey the 2-0 edge 40 minutes down, 20 to go. Brodeur continued to hold onto the goose-egg on the scoreboard, tacking on a medicore 2 saves on two relatively weak shots. Through 40 minutes, the Devils managed to out shoot Florida 20-14, going 0-1 on the powerplay while killing off the only Florida powerplay opportunity.
As if this nailbitter of a game had been scripted somewhere in Hollywood, it would be only fitting for the team down 2-0 to make a valiant effort to capture the "W" in regulation. We'll open the 3rd period with the dis-allowed goal. A shot by a Panther about 2 min in would scooter its way past the lunging body of Marty Brodeur and into the back of the net bringing the Panthers to within one of the Devs with PLENTY of time on their side. The downside? Brodeur was interfered with. A questionable "shove" from behind by Adam Henrique on Shawn Matthias would lead to a collision with Marty in the crease, allowing the puck to find its way past the nearly impenetrable 3x Stanley Cup Champion goalie. Florida would be short handed; Matthias to the box at 1:50 for goaltender interference. New Jersey could not convert on the opportunity. When Matthias hit the ice again after his 2 minutes were up, shortly after, David Clarkson would take his turn in the penalty box when he was nabbed for hi-sticking. This would come to back to nip New Jersey in their one achillies heel of the series, their lack of killing penalties. With Clarky in the box and Florida up 5 skaters to the Devils' 4, nearly 45 seconds later Erik Gudbranson would nearly erase a man advantage for his team when he was sent to sit out two for slashing Bryce Salvador right on the left thumb. While on the 4 on 4, Devils defenseman Peter Harrold would slip up, holding is the call, and 2 minutes would be the sentencing. With a 4 on 3 for a short while, it'd be the New Jersey Nightmare, Stephen Weiss on the powerplay with 4 seconds remaining, who would put Florida on the board, finally, after a beautiful passing pattern between himself, Brian Campbell, and Mikael Samuelsson would lead back to Weiss driving one past Marty on the glove side for the goal. With Clarkson emerging from the box and New Jersey still killing off the Harrold holding penalty, Florida would show a sense of urgency as their shot totals began to rise in numbers, leaving them with 17 more shots in the 3rd than the 2nd (33 total through periods 1-3). The Devils miraculously would keep Florida off the board throughout the remaining minutes of the period! Oh, wait, I forgot a certain somebody taking a costly delay of game penalty with 3:48 minutes left in the game, his name, Marek Zidlicky. Despite pressure from behind, all he needed to do was chip it forward where a teammate was; instead we were left withMr. Zidlicky sitting in the penalty box for all of 20 seconds... yes, 20, seconds, in the box. FLORIDA POWERPLAY GOAL! Marcel Goc from Bergenheim and Garrison at 16:32 of the third would knot this game up at 2! As if the suspense wasnt building up enough for us all to begin with, and then, in the waning minutes, a horrific penalty could potential put New Jersey on the brink of playing Philadelphia this weekend, or playing 18 holes of golf Monday morning... the score would remain the same, shot totals through 60 were 33-26 Florida. Florida went 2/4 on the powerplay while New Jersey was 0/2 (concluding the night 0/3), this game, would be decided in THE, SINGLE MOST, DRAMATIC PLAYOFF SCENARIO OF ALL... OVERTIME, or so we thought.
Well well well... overtime, for the second game in a row. Winner takes all! Devils-Panthers in Sunrise, Florida, WELL PAST sunset would take the opening faceoff for the 20 minute sudden death overtime period. Florida winning the draw would make just about ANY fan nervous at this stage of the game, as it sure as hell did for me. Shot after shot, followed up by save after save would suddenly see the last penalty of the night come from the corner in the Devils defensive zone. Florida's prolific goal scorer Kris Versteeg called for the slash 3:21 in the period would seem to put the Panthers fans in attendance at BankAtlantic Center in a stage of unease. But, when all was said and done, you could only guess that New Jersey wouldnt score with a man advantage and shortly after the teams were back at even strength. This period was frightning, very frightning... Big saves needed to be made over and over and over again when Brodeur's defense collapsed in front of him, only having to bail himself out time and time again. One player i'd like to point out in the 1OT period who showed veteren experience was Petr Sykora. He'll most likely go unnoticed after last night/this morning's game due to the hype over the GWG, but, in the first sudden death OT, Sykky was able to race back, trailing Bergenehim and Versteeg on two seperate plays to pull off a successful backcheck, knocking the puck loose when defensemen Anton Volchenkov and Peter Harrold could not keep up with the Florida snipers. Kudos to Sykora. Brodeur, like the 1st period would stop all 12 shots faced resulting in no goals while Jose Theodore shut down 9 of 9. TIE, GAME... DOUBLE OVERTIME.
With this sudden death period beginning quarter after midnight here on the East Coast, I was HOPING AND PRAYING it would be wrapped up quick, and in favor of the Devils, of course, since I have class at 7:00am Friday morning... It sure seems as though someone heard me up there as this period would be no more than 4 minutes in length! With 1 shot taken, it'd be wrapped up! The night! The game! The series! The Panthers! ALL FINISHED! Opening AND closing the scoring for the game, Adam Henrique! ADAM HENRIQUE! The Devils win 3-2 in double OT over the Florida Panthers! After catching the puck and dropping it to the ice surface, a nifty little wrister would find a gap between the pads of Jose Three-or-more sealing Florida's fate. Henrique, The Exterminator with a quick usage of Rat-B-Gone on a wrister 5Hole would win it for the Dev's!
New Jersey would prevail! 4 games to 3. Emergence as a threat and a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference Semifinals as the Devils' next opponent is not all that of an unfamiliar foe. The Broad Street Bullies, in the City of Brotherly Love, I can promise you this much, there sure as HELL wont be any "brotherly love" in this Atlantic Division rivalry matchup in the 2nd round of the playoffs. New Jersey's playoff schedule is as follows:
Game 1: Sunday, April 29th- 3:00pm, @ PHI
Game 2: Tuesday, May 1st- 7:30pm, @ PHI
Game 3: Thursday, May 3rd- 7:30pm, NJ
Game 4: Saturday, May 6th- 7:30pm, NJ
Game 5*: @PHI
Game 6*: NJ
Game 7*: @PHI
* If necessary
(Game 4, Saturday May 6th, will be Martin Brodeur's 40th birthday)
My prediction for this series will go as follows: New Jersey taking Game 1, Game 3, Game 4, and Game 6, dropping Games 2 & 5. Im not a Bryz-liever, im just not. To be honest, I dont think Philadelphia is as good of a team as everyone makes them out to be, especially going from the net out. Their forwards are ALWAYS a threat, but as for Bryzgalov, in the Quarterfinals, I feel as though he was faced up against a goaltender (Marc-Andre Fleury) who's head was all scrambled, a series which saw over 50 goals in 6 games, a 10-3 Pittsburgh victory in Game 5, the goaltending was WELL above par in that series and I dont feel as though Mr. Universe will be able to contend with the veteran experience of Brodeur. Devils in 6 is my prediction.
To hear all the latest Devils Playoff information, be sure to follow us on twitter at @RWTDblog , @DEVIN88MATTERA ,@RealScottRobband @Rvaidya33 as well as our facebook page! From all of us here at Running With The Devils, I'm Devin Mattera, you stay classy Devils Fans!
What. A. Game. The New Jersey Devils have defeated the Florida Panthers, 3-2 in overtime, to force a Game Seven in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Steve Bernier, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Travis Zajac scored for the Devils in a thrilling overtime victory that had fans on the edge of their seats all night long.
The Devils came out strong and ready to play. The crowd seemed to be into it and provided the Devils with a bit of an energy boost. A strong "LET'S GO DEVILS!" chant rang through the rafters at the Prudential Center as the puck dropped and away we went. The Devils fourth line produced the first goal of the night when Steve Bernier netted his second of the playoffs 16:37 into the opening twenty minutes. Ryan Carter and Peter Harrold were credited with the assists. The strong effort and continuous production of the fourth line is no surprise to Devils fans. Bernier has played great all series along with his fourth line buddies. The Devils managed to stay out of the penalty box in the first period; New Jersey outshot Florida 13-6 and took a 1-0 lead into the locker room at the intermission.
With a cheesesteak in hand, I sat down to watch the second period. Something was telling me that the Florida Panthers were not going down without a fight, and I was correct. Tomas Kopecky was called for high-sticking and on the ensuing power play, Ilya Kovalchuk scored his third goal of the playoffs to give the Devils a 2-0 lead. With a little bit of breathing room, the Devils could focus on the defensive aspect of the game. However, Kris Versteeg scored 7:05 into the middle period to cut the deficit to one. After several New Jersey scoring opportunities, Sean Bergenheim tied the game for Florida 12:49 in. Although the Devils held the Panthers to just four second period shots, Florida was able to convert on two of them to even things up going into the second intermission. The Devils would carry over a late power play into the third period and looked to capitalize on the opportunity.
Just six seconds into the third period, Brian Campbell was called for delay of game when he cleared the puck over the glass. This gave the Devils a 5-on-3 for a mere 27 seconds and a 5-on-4 power play afterwards. Unfortunately, New Jersey was unable to score on several chances. Scott Clemmensen remained strong in net for Florida; New Jersey had momentum, though, and after a scoreless third period, Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals headed into overtime.
The Devils looked to make the best out of the momentum that they carried over from a strong performance in regulation. Florida opened the overtime period with several scoring opportunities that Martin Brodeur turned aside. Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg streaked into New Jersey's zone in a two-on-one. Zach Parise made an excellent play on the backcheck to thwart the opportunity. After a scramble in front of the net, the Devils were able to skate away with the puck. Parise played it off the boards to Kovalchuk, who criss-crossed with Zajac. Kovalchuk then fed Zajac right in front of the net; Zajac took a step, fired a shot, and danced around the back of the net as the goal horn sounded.
My Thoughts: The Devils played an outstanding game tonight. Zach Parise had a great game and did what we all expected him to do--lead this team to victory. With a pivotal Game Seven coming up, it is important that the Devils look at the good things they did tonight and correct the mistakes. There is NO room for error now. It's win or go home in Game Seven. With a strong performance by Martin Brodeur, the Devils will be just fine, in my opinion, on Thursday night. The fourth line continues to impress me and I hope that they continue their strong play on Thursday.
Next Game: Thursday (at TBD) at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Photo of the Night:
Above: Travis Zajac #19 of the New Jersey Devils scores the game-winning goal in overtime against goalie Scott Clemmensen #30 of the Florida Panthers in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center on April 24, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils won 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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LET'S GO DEVILS!
Hello everyone and welcome to the first real issue of Masala Monday. We all know (or we should if you’re a true Devils fan) that our ever so beloved New Jersey Devils are on the brink of elimination. They trail the Florida Panthers 3-2 in the series but, I feel confident that they have enough left in the tank for a comeback. Let’s look at who’s stood out to me, both negatively and positively through these first 5 games.
Travis Zajac – Yes indeed, Zajac belongs up here. In fact, he deserves to be up here because he leads the Devils in the playoffs with 4 points (2 goals and 2 assists). He also shows the poise that a star should so come playoff time. I feel that he will have a major impact on the Devils’ overall performance come Games 6 and 7.
Zach Parise – Parise ranks just behind Zajac in points with 3 (2 goals and 1 assist). But he is a -1 at the moment. So, then why is his masala rating up in the spicy range? Through observation, I’ve seen that Parise wants to play and create as many chances as he can. You even saw him score 30 seconds into game 3 and scored the double deflection in game 5. He’s certainly pumped despite the setbacks, in my opinion. In addition, he is the captain. In the long run, his words and actions will serve to determine the Devils’ fate this playoff year.
Bryce Salvador – Salvador, you might say, is an interesting choice because we haven’t paid much attention to him. However, if you look at what happened to him last season combined with his age, it’s quite remarkable to see him turnaround and provide himself to the Devils as a reliable defenseman. He has 3 assists and a +3 rating so far and there is a good chance that he will make a difference in these remaining couple of games.
The Devils 4th line – How often do you see this?! Please correct me if I’m wrong but I’m quite certain that New Jersey has one of the best 4th lines in the playoffs right about now. Though you could make a case for St. Louis’ 4th line, this Devils 4th line has been tremendous and reliable when the Devils needed them. Ryan Carter (1 goal, 1 point), Stephen Gionta (1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points), Steve Bernier (1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points). That line has combined for 5 points and has a total +5 rating. When given the pitfalls that have plagued the Devils in this series, you got to give this line some props.
Anton Volchenkov – Must I really explain? You’ve got to feel bad for this guy. Coming into these playoffs he was supposed to be one of our best defensemen. He has an even plus differential but it feels like minus infinity because poor Volchenkov has been on the ice for the majority of Florida’s goals. Don’t forget some of those turnovers too. Perhaps it’s time to free Larsson?
Petr Sykora – I love Sykky to be honest. He had a great comeback year and I really thought he would carry that into the playoffs. Instead, he seems like an oddball because though he’s even in the +/- rating, he hasn’t done squat. No goals, no assists… no points. He’s the only Devils forward to not have recorded a point. Maybe he will in Game 6 who knows. But come on dude, the 4th liners have more than you.
Marty Brodeur – This was tough… I’ve been a fan of Marty ever since I was a toddler. However, I just haven’t seen the consistency that I hoped for. Yes we all know he broke Patrick Roy’s shutout record after Game 4. But take a look at the series as a whole. In Game 1 he barely held on, in Game 2 he blew it early, and in Game 3 he blew it late. That itself brought him down his masala rating to a stale. Now, after Game 4, I thought maybe “ehh… maybe he’s back in form now”. Not so fast though, because Game 5 was his nightmare. The way he left his post and left his net wide open for Scottie Upshall was irresponsible. As I said in my Game 5 recap article, Marty cannot afford to make that mistake come playoff time! His blunder isn’t the only factor that lost New Jersey’s Game 5 chances. However, it was certainly an important one which Devils fans won’t forget if they can’t win the series.
The Devils as a team? It’s fair to put them at MILD. But it’s at a point where they could turn stale. Seriously the inconsistency needs to stop. They’re at mild because I can see them scoring goals and holding their ground during tense moments. Many teams in other games haven’t been able to do that (i.e.: the Coyotes). I’m confident that the New Jersey Devils can and will get the job done. If you have any doubts, just take a quick scroll down and look at our fellow writer Scott Robb’s thoughts on why the Devils can make it. Those are 10 very insightful points and I completely agree with them.
Once again, these are just my views. You all can send me your views/criticisms via commenting or via tweeting. In fact, I encourage it!
For all the latest Devils news, follow us on twitter: @RWTDblog, @Rvaidya33, @RealScottRobb, and @DEVIN88MATTERA and you can like us on our Facebook page! So long for now – I’m Raj Vaidya, and hopefully this spice wasn’t too hot to handle!
Indeed the Devils were treated to the wrath of hell tonight after the ice was flooded with rats. Coming into this Game 5 matchup of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Florida Panthers, the New Jersey Devils obviously had the momentum after a 4-0 win in Game 4 back at home. Unfortunately, not every game can be played in the Prudential Center so the Panthers looked for a strong outing by hosting Game 5. You could say that the result was a role reversal cut by one goal. Nonetheless, Florida ruled the night and now currently has this series in their hideous paws.
Now I understand why NBC rarely likes to put the Devils on their schedule (same applies for the Panthers). People like to see great action from the beginning and they get that action (to some extent) from teams like the US-based Original 6 teams. New Jersey and Florida play relatively-boring hockey as it is and this first period wasn’t any different. Marty Brodeur was obviously the starter but the Panthers reverted back to Jose Theodore (I expected Scott Clemmensen). This period had a balanced opening and continued that way…without much action. However, Marty flat out ROBBED Sean Bergenheim at the 13:30 point! Where was the defense though (still a mystery)? I wasn’t quite sure what happened to Adam Henrique because he missed a couple of shifts after going to the locker room (equipment problem I assume). Nonetheless, he still came back out strong. At the 10:55 point, Ed Jovanovski took a slashing penalty, giving the Devils their first power play of the night. The good thing was that we saw some chances. Knowing the Devils power play by now though, you shouldn’t expect much no matter how much you internally pray for a goal. There was none and the Panthers killed it off. Between the 7:18 point to the 5:15 point, the Devils’ 1st and 3rd lines were really controlling play. Marty made some nice stops after but I noticed Stephen Gionta leaving the ice limping. His presence overall tonight was to minute for me to notice if he returned or not. Florida created a chance with 2:30 left to play from the stick of ex-Devil John Madden but Marty was there to keep this a scoreless game. Shots-on-goal after one were 11 all.
The first few minutes or so were pretty good for the most part. Henrique’s line and Patrik Elias’ line were really dominating play. Marty even made a key stop on Bergenheim again at the 16:48 point but that’s when the Devils misfortunes began. Just 12 seconds after that save on Bergenheim, Marek Zidlicky (who I often refer to as Bum on my tweets) took an interference penalty which gave Florida a power play. It only took them 30 seconds to convert! Kris Versteeg, from a tough angle, ripped his 2nd of the playoffs past Marty and give the Panthers a 1-0 edge. Versteeg’s goal was assisted by Stephen Weiss and Brian Campbell (looks like all 3 of them need haircuts). I’m sure very Devils fan was wondering why their PK went from best in the NHL to retrospectively last – and trust me my thoughts weren’t any different. A few minutes after the goal, Steve Bernier ripped a shot which probably could’ve gone in but Theodore was a complete wall and froze that shot. Devils Fans started to turn against the refs for the millionth time in this series when captain Zach Parise was called for a hold. No clue how or why this was possible because I was so sure Panther defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (who was tangled up with Parise) deserved the penalty. Thankfully, the Devils PK held its ground and didn’t let up a goal. The PK would come back to work when Dainius Zubrus took a double minor with 6:37 to go in the 2nd. 30 seconds into it, Florida forward Tomas Fleischmann was tripped by Marty and as a result, knocked the netting off, which caused Fleischmann to leave with an injury. He soon came back and generated a great chance for the Panthers, but the Devils stayed strong and killed off the elongated penalty. That last chance by Fleischmann was the only true chance Florida got in that 4 minute power play so kudos to the Devils PK (Florida even called a timeout during that). With 2 minutes to go, Marco Sturm took a holding penalty, which gave New Jersey a power play for the rest of the period. Henrique was called for a mysterious high stick with 51 seconds left, negating the Devils power play, and forcing some 4-on-4. Shots-on-goal were 23-17 in favor of Florida.
The Panthers started this period on the power play, which forced Marty to make some early saves. It was simple hockey but Devils fans, our complaints towards officiating needs to be recognized in some way! Never in these playoffs have I seen a penalty being called after an icing! Ryan Carter, at the 16:53 point, was called for boarding after a Panther had touched the puck. Really speaking though, that Panther had just lost his edge and Carter was just finishing his check! How do you call that a penalty?! The Florida player was barely hurt. In retaliation, Bernier and Tomas Kopecky were sent to the box for offsetting roughing minors. Around the midway point, the Devils generated numerous chances but I wasn’t so sure that their push for the equalizer was greater than Florida’s push for a 2 goal lead. At the 7:40 point, a strong slapper by Bergenheim (pretty unlucky tonight) was stopped by Brodeur, hoping that his team could tie it because he can’t win the game for the Devils alone. Coach Pete DeBoer even mixed up and reset the lines but that didn’t seem to have much effect. All was still positive…until the blunder. I once stated in my article where the Devils fell in Pittsburgh 5-2 that my father doesn’t approve of Marty playing the puck behind the net. He thinks of the unthinkable (somewhat…) and that happened just about a minute after Marty made the stop on Bergenheim. He left his post and tried to poke the puck with Bryce Salvador also trying to get it. Instead he completely FAILED and Versteeg backhanded a pass to an open Scottie Upshall, who had no problem putting the puck in the open net. In the playoffs, THAT IS UNNACEPTABLE! Upshall’s 1st of the playoffs was assisted by Versteeg and Shawn Matthias. Devils fans have every right to be mad at Marty for essentially costing the game right there. Even though he made some vital saves with 4 minutes go, the score was still 2-0 Florida. Erik Gudbranson took a high sticking call with 2:08 to go and the Devils called their timeout, hoping for a miracle. Soon Marty was pulled and New Jersey had a 6-on-4. On this fortuitous opportunity, the Devils made squat out of it. Ilya Kovalchuk pretty much gave the puck away to Kopecky, who had the empty net in front of him. Kovy didn’t let Kopecky score by hooking him with his stick. In those situations, it’s an automatic goal and thus, Florida went up 3-0. That’s how the game ended with the rats reigning down and now, the Panther have the Devils on the brink of elimination. Shots on goal were 33-30 in favor of Florida. Best wishes to our beloved New Jersey Devils in Game 6!
- Jose Theodore
- Kris Versteeg
- Shawn Matthias
Next Game: Game 6: Panthers vs. Devils from the Prudential Center 4/24 (time still to be determined). This game is a MUST WIN if the Devils still want to be in this race.
We saw new refs and linesmen who never took part in a single game of this matchup. The linesmen, Brian Murphy and Jonny Murray, were pretty fair. The referees, Chris Lee and Wes McCauley, disappointed Devils fans again. I think it’s fair to say we won’t get the support from officiating no matter how far the Devils go. Jason Garrison was out for the 2nd straight game and Tyson Strachan replaced him. Due to that absence, the Devils went 5/6 on the PK tonight but that one goal allowed (Versteeg’s) ended up being the game winner. Gee, did anyone notice that Janssen, Boulton, and LARSSON were scratches again? Maybe it’s time to free Larsson and possibly, oh I don’t know, bench Volchenkov?! Just a thought… The favored Devils are down 3-2 but shockingly so are the other Eastern favorites (Senators lead the Rangers 3-2, Capitals lead the Bruins 3-2, and the Flyers lead the Penguins 3-2).
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