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!
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.
So here we are, Game 6 and our backs are against the wall. The Devils put forth, what I thought was a pretty crappy effort in Game 5 but still had a chance late in the game to find the equalizer until Marty made a mistake and came out of his net. How do the Devils respond at home tonight? The last time we were here and needed to respond, the Devils did so in a big way. The only thing that matters tonight is a win which forces one more game where it becomes anyone's series. But tonight it's a must win, win or go home.
Keys To The Game:
- Play a full 60 minutes. We’ve only seen NJ do that in one game this series and that was the 4-0 shutout win in Game 4.
- Play consistent hockey and try to minimize the turnovers and mistakes that Florida seems to have been able to capitalize on over and over again.
- Get the puck to the net. You can’t put the puck in the net if you don’t get the puck to the net. Stop being cute with it and just fire it.
- And for GOD SAKES, STAY OUT OF THE BOX!!!
Things I will Be Watching
- How does Marty respond to Game 4? Honestly, his mistake at the end was huge and just took NJ right out of the game. By the looks of it, he knew that because you could tell that he was just completely upset with himself.
- How does Zach respond to being down 3-2 in the series?. If the Devils fail tonight, a lot will be made about his leadership qualities and that he just can’t seem to get out of the first round. Doesn’t mean they entire league won’t come knocking on July 1 but comments will still be made.
- A loss tonight could mean the last we see of Zach Parise and Marty Brodeur in a Devils uniform, so this is certainly a game to watch! (not that I feel we will lose tonight).
- Word on the street is that Kovalchuk might have some kind of injury. He’s been off this series so maybe but I will be watching him a little closer tonight.
A Plea to the Devils
Last night marked the last time we will see the NJ Nets play a home game in the state of New Jersey. I’m not ready to put the 2010/2011 season to bed just yet, so please, dig deep and fight to survive.
Florida Panthers president Michael Yormark has spent the last 24 hours sparring with Devils fans on Twitter. It all seemed to start when he announced that Florida won’t be selling those plastic rats at their home games and said the reason was because the visiting fans, not the Panthers fans were the ones responsible for throwing them on the ice during game play the other night. It’s pretty sad that the president of an organization would attack another organizations fan base. Truth is, the Panthers have been an irrelevant part of the NHL for a long time now. Their biggest claim to fame is a dead rat followed closely by an appearance in a Stanley Cup Final where they were swept out of. Yes, you lead this series and yes you might win this series but you are still an irrelevant hockey organization that hasn’t really done much but tread water over the last 10 years. So Mchael Yormark, please try and show a little class?
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!
Here we are again. Our beloved New Jersey Devils are on the brink of elimination after a tough 3-0 loss in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. At times, the Florida Panthers have dominated the Devils; however, New Jersey has hung in there against the scrappy Panthers. The Devils are one loss away from elimination, but I stand with those that believe New Jersey can pull off a series win. Give me ten chances to convince you that I am right.
Reason #1: Playoff Experience
Multiple players on the Devils roster have playoff experience. Martin Brodeur has three Stanley Cups, Patrik Elias has two, and Petr Sykora has one. Zach Parise, the captain of the Devils, knows what the playoffs are all about, as does Ilya Kovalchuk. Although the Devils have lost their last four games when facing elimination, Zach Parise said, "I think we’re a better team. I think we play a better team game than in the past. It’s been a tight series and every game was winnable for us, so there’s a lot of reason that we can win these next two games."
Reason #2: Prudential Center Plays Host to Game Six
Although the Devils must win their next two games in order to advance, the first battle comes Tuesday night at the Prudential Center. If the Devils are able to win on Tuesday night, Game Seven becomes a toss up. We'll discuss that in Reason #3, but for now, let's stick to the topic. During Game Four, the crowd was energized and the Devils played well. If the fans and the players can repeat this performance, the Devils will be fine.
Reason #3: Game Seven Becomes a Toss-Up With Game Six Victory
As mentioned above, if the Devils win Game Six, Game Seven is a toss-up. The previous six games do not matter. The statistics do not matter. All that matters is that the Devils play strong. Hopefully, with a Game Six win, New Jersey will gain some momentum and carry it over into Game Seven.
Reason #4: Pressure Heats Up
As the NHL playoffs grow deeper, the pressure heats up. With a hypothetical win in Game Six for New Jersey, the series will shift back to Florida for Game Seven. It has been mentioned over the last few days that if the series were to extend into Game Seven, more pressure would fall on the Florida Panthers than the Devils. I am not completely convinced that the Florida Panthers have what it takes to deal with such pressure. After watching the Devils all season, I can confidently say that New Jersey is certainly able to overcome obstacles and handle adversity.
Reason #5: Look Around the League
Boston and Washington, New York and Ottawa, Phoenix and Chicago. The Boston Bruins faced a 3-2 series deficit heading into today and won in overtime against the Washington Capitals to force a Game Seven. What is interesting about this fact is that Boston won Game Six on the road. New Jersey will have it somewhat easier with Game Six at home. No one is counting the Bruins out now and the same will be true for Jersey with a Game Six victory. The New York Rangers also trail their series, 3-2, against the Ottawa Senators. Like it or not, the Rangers have been a good team all year and fell just short of the President's Trophy. Certainly, they are not out of it. Finally, the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Phoenix Coyotes last night and trail in the series 3-2. With some momentum, Chicago is certainly not out of the playoffs just yet.
Reason #6: No Lead is Safe
Devils fans, how confident would you be with a 3-2 series lead? While you would feel somewhat better about our situation, the possibility of Florida winning the series would not be out of the question. The Devils blew a three-goal lead in Game Three. What would have happened if Florida gave up? The Devils cannot give up now and will have to fight to win this series. However, this is a fight that can be won. This brings me to my next reason...
Reason #7: May 14, 2010
We look no further than our Atlantic Division rivals for a perfect example of hard work and determination. The Philadelphia Flyers squared off against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Boston jumped out to a 3-0 series lead. Philadelphia battled back to tie the series at three. Even after trailing by three goals in Game Seven, the Flyers did not give up. Philly won the game and the series, 4-3. Although our hatred towards the Flyers grows more and more each day, their aggressive and heart-filled play led them to victory. Can the Devils duplicate this performance? I think so.
Reason #8: Football and Baseball
Look everyone, I will be honest with you. If there is one thing I have learned from being a New York Mets and Seattle Seahawks fan, it is that ANYTHING in the world of sports is possible. Maybe I've hinted at it before, but this series is far from over. No one is eliminated until the final horn sounds. It sounds cliche, but it is definitely true.
Reason #9: Parise, Parise, Parise
Zach Parise knows what has to be done. Parise also knows that he is in the last year of his contract and if he wants big money next year, he will have to produce. By taking a strong leadership standpoint throughout this series, Parise will improve not only his current situation, but also his future. Of course, just like any other professional athlete, Zach wants to win a championship. It's time to put a little bit more faith in Parise and let him handle things as he sees fit. With veteran leaders like Parise, Martin Brodeur, and Patrik Elias, the Devils will be good to go.
Reason #10: A Look Back at This Season
How often were the New Jersey Devils faced with hardships and adversity this season? Twice the Devils lost three in a row, and twice the Devils lost four in a row. One of the most inspirational lines I've ever heard states, "Don't let your performance affect your effort. Let your effort affect your performance." The world of sports is all about how well one handles difficulties. Put games one through five behind us. Let's focus on winning the next two. New Jersey certainly is able to do so. Even at the low points of the season, the Devils were tough and always "came out swinging," said Head Coach Peter DeBoer. Look for the Devils to play with some fire on Tuesday and Thursday.
Above: Goaltender Martin Brodeur #30 of the New Jersey Devils looks down at the puck in the net as Shawn Matthias #18 celebrates the goal by Scottie Upshall #19 (not pictured) of the Florida Panthers in the third period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the BankAtlantic Center on April 21, 2012 in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Devils 3-0. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images North America) View more photos at http://tinyurl.com/83htfwz.
Game Six is Tuesday night at 7:30 in Newark. If we win--scratch that--WHEN we win, make sure you check back here for your game recap. Follow the @RWTDblog staff on twitter: @RealScottRobb, @DEVIN88MATTERA, and @Rvaidya33; like us on facebook, too.
One more time... LET'S GO DEVILS!
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).
For all the latest Devils news, follow us on twitter: @RWTDblog, @Rvaidya33, @RealScottRobb, and @DEVIN88MATTERA and you can like us on our Facebook page! Also, be sure to check out my new edition to Running With the Devils, “Masala Monday” (next edition on April 23rd).
After a crushing defeat Tuesday evening in Game 3 after going up by three goals, EARLY... the horrific display of officiating by the referee's would be the ultimate downfall of New Jersey. Florida managed to go 3/3 on the powerplay scoring 4 unanswered times to pull out the dramatic victory over the Devils. Being in attendance for the game, my first ever playoff game with my girlfriend, I was utterly disgusted with the lack of calls that were just missed by officials on blatent penalties for Panther players. Tonight on the other hand, would be a COMPLETELY different story!
The first period tonight, summarized with one word: defensive. 10 shots a piece, no goals, and one Florida powerplay would be seen during the duration of the period. The Devils looked good, REALLY GOOD for that matter. New Jersey had a sense of control throughout the game as though they were in the drivers seat, start to finish. Sitting at home watching the game, I felt comfortable, and positive, DESPITE watching Brodeur two nights earlier get the hook after blowing a three-goal lead to the very same Panthers hockey club. Marty played a full 60 minute game tonight, from opening faceoff until the final horn blew at the conclusion of the game; Brodeur was on a mission. Throughout the game, NOT just the first period, Marty recorded save after save and not just chinsy little saves, BIG CLUTCH saves by the 39 year old. Devils D-Man Peter Harrold got the lone penalty, an interference call a few seconds past the 7 minute mark would be killed by the rather sluggish penalty kill unit of New Jersey leading the way for a perfect 100% PK% on the evening for the Devs. Both clubs would hit the locker rooms scoreless after 20 minutes at The Rock.
A gift from above! A successful second period by the good guys! FINALLY! New Jersey would hit the man advantage about a quarter of the way through the middle period when Panther Keaton Ellerby would be called for a duece after a hi-stick and boy oh boy did this penalty come back to bite the Cats you-know-where! 1:30 minutes into the kill for Florida, the 6x4 foot brick wall behind Scott Clemmensen would be penetrated on not one, but TWO re-directs! A blast from the blue line by Marek Zidlicky would be tipped infront by Zajac, and then finished off as it was re-redirected up and over the glove of the Panthers netminder by the captain, Zach Parise! ZACH ATTACK ANSWERS THE CRITICS! IN the pre-game show, Ken Daneyko discussed with Deb Placey how the Devils captain and alternate captain, Ilya Kovalchuk would need to rise to the occassion this evening if New Jersey wished to keep their playoff hopes alive and avoid a 3-1 series defecit. Parise's goal was his 2nd of the playoffs at 6:08. IT'S A POWERPLAY GOAL! (I am hoping you Devils fans got my Sam Rosen reference right there). The scoring would come to a hault until New Jersey would resume its goal barrage in the 3rd. As for the penalties, each team would send one more man to their respective boxes; Zidlicky for New Jersey at 8:39 for hi-sticking followed up by a tripping call on Steven Weiss at 15:06 (Weiss' penalty was served by teammate Tomas Fleischmann). Both penalties were killed off. The Devils had the lead through two periods with 20 more minutes left to play!
CRUNCH TIME! A one goal game, a close one at that! Ultimately in the hands of Florida & New Jersey's goalies, former teammates. The teacher versus his apprentice. The lead would steadily increase between the opening draw and the half way point in the period. New Jersey goal! Support by Steve Bernier! A Bernier-Blast up and over the shoulder of HIS former teammate would increase the lead, New Jersey 2-0 Florida. Finding his way back onto the score sheet, the kid, Steven Gionta was credited with the primary assist after recieving a dump pass from the crease, a saucer pass from Martin Brodeur, his 2nd assist of the playoffs! Just over a minute later, the fans beginning to calm down a bit from the excitment of the Bernier goal, a wrap around move by David Clarkson would result to a feed from Clarky, centered to Travis Zajaz for a goal that'd put the Devils up by 3 with plenty of time left in the third. Zajac's goal, his 2nd of the playoffs would come from a well overdue David Clarkson and Jersey defenseman, Bryce Salvador. Almost 5 minutes later, the last (but simply not the least) goal would come from yet, ANOTHER Devils forward! The REAL King, King Kovy put a shot through Clemmensen on the powerplay! Que the Sam Rosen reference, IT'S A POWERPLAY GOAL! New Jersey's 4th goal scored by Ilya Kovalchuk was put up on the man advantage, the team's second of the night, assisted by Peter Harrold and yet again, Bryce Salvador (a player I see to be a bit of an unsung hero through 4 games). The one part of the third period I haven't necessarily focused on, was the number of penalties assessed. New Jersey was called for 7 penalties, while Florida got called for 4. In order, penalties were:
NJD Ryan Carter
: ROUGHING - 2 MIN
|06:39||FLA Erik Gudbranson||: BOARDING - 2 MIN|
|09:29||NJD Anton Volchenkov||: ROUGHING - 2 MIN|
|09:46||FLA Steven Weiss||: SLASHING - 2 MIN|
|12:31||NJD David Clarkson||: CHARGING - 2 MIN|
|15:51||FLA Jerred Smithson||: CROSS CHECKING - 2 MIN|
|15:51||NJD Alexi Ponikarovsky||: ROUGHING - 2 MIN|
|19:05||NJD Steve Bernier||: ELBOWING - 2 MIN|
|19:05||FLA Marco Sturm||: UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT - 2 MIN|
|19:39||NJD Dainius Zubrus||: HOLDING - 2 MIN|
|19:39||NJD David Clarkson||: MISCONDUCT (10 MIN) - 0 MIN|
A 2/4 night on the man advantage, killing all 6 powerplay opportunities Florida was credited with, taking 27 shots punching 4 past Clemmensen, and watching Martin Brodeur shut down all 26 shots on goal breaking Patrick Roy's all-time NHL record for shutouts in the post season, recording his 24th of his career, would manage to bring the series to a stale mate heading into a Game 5, Saturday evening at 6:30pm in Sunrise, FL at the BankAtlantic Center.
To hear all the latest Devils Playoff information, be sure to follow us on twitter at @RWTDblog , @DEVIN88MATTERA ,@RealScottRobb and @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!
Tuesday was a roller coaster ride of emotions for all Devils fans. For nearly seven minutes to begin the game, the Devils dominated the opposition in what was the closest thing I’ve seen to perfect hockey (until I watched the Penguins last night after the score was 3-3). Devils fans and probably Devils players were strutting around, thinking they were untouchable, meanwhile forgetting how much time was actually left in the evening. Then, that ever present pendulum of momentum began to swing yet again and the Panthers stormed back, erased a 3 goal deficit, chased Marty from the net and quickly put themselves on top...for good.
The collapse was stunning, embarrassing and for me, Game 3, while not as bad since it was only a Game 3, ranks up there with Game 7 against Carolina in 2009 as one of the worst.
The reality of all this is that the Devils are only down 2-1 in the series. A win tonight changes everything and puts this series back up for grabs. A loss however, creates a huge hole for us to climb out of and I wouldn’t even begin to know who could bring us a ladder.
This much is obvious; the Devils need to stay out of the box. They desperately need to stay out of the box. Take away Florida’s success on the PP and this series looks VERY different.
Line combinations at practice on Wednesday weren’t any different than we’ve seen so far in this series. It would seem that DeBoer believes in what he’s putting out there and that change isn’t needed. I have to admit, I was and still am hoping for a little change.
- Henrique played well all season on the top line with Parise and Kovalchuk. Why not swap him and Zajac for a night or a few periods to see if something sparks that line into what they were in the regular season.
- Peter Harrold isn’t doing it for me and Volchenkov lacks the speed to keep up with the Panthers. I know Larsson made his mistakes during the year but pretty much everyone defenseman not named Salvador made their share of mistakes. The kid has talent and speed, might as well see what he can do.
- Kovalchuk needs to figure out how to play playoff hockey. I understand it can be hard for a guy without much playoff experience or success to just stand up and carry a team this time of year but he needs to. Kovalchuk looks tentative out there because he’s trying to figure out his place but he’s the kind of player that needs to take over and drive the tempo of the game. Stop worrying if you are trying to do too much. Just do what you did in the regular season, don’t over think it.
- I’m still waiting for Marty to just take over like he’s done in the past but the reality is, that might not happen. He’s older and therefore a little slower so the defense needs to help him out a little more. That means not screening him as you try and clear out the area in front of him.
- Faceoffs, WIN THEM. It’s the main reason our Penalty Kill has been such an epic fail so far. Think about it, if you win the faceoff, you send the puck down ice which causes the Panthers to chase the puck, regroup and try to enter the zone which can take a good 10-20 seconds of the clock. If they win the faceoff, they immediately setup and start throwing pucks at the net. More wins in the faceoff circle will equal better results on the penalty kill.
Let be remembered as fighters!!
Embarrassing. Embarrassing is one of the many adjectives that come to mind when pondering tonight's loss. New Jersey fell in the game, 4-3, and in the series, 2-1. After allowing the Panthers to erase a three-goal deficit, the Devils were unable to score on former goaltender Scott Clemmensen. The Devils will look to turn things around on Thursday evening in Game Four.
The Devils started off in brilliant fashion, scoring three times in just over six minutes. Zach Parise scored his first goal of the series just 33 seconds into the game to put New Jersey ahead 1-0. Stephen Gionta followed up with his first career playoff goal 3:27 into the opening period. The crowd was energetic and seemed to provide the Devils with a huge boost. Patrik Elias scored his second goal of the series 6:16 into the first; Jose Theodore was pulled in favor of Scott Clemmensen as the Panthers attempted a comeback. At the 16:11 mark, Sean Bergenheim scored for the Panthers to cut the Devils' lead to 3-1. With eight seconds to go in the first, the Panthers would cut the lead to 3-2 on Jason Garrison's first goal of the season. Both Panthers goals came on the power play. However, the Devils skated into the locker room with the one-goal lead.
Devils fans, you might want to skip over this section of the recap. It was around the beginning of the second period that I began throwing my hat on the floor and yelling vulgarities at the television. Just 2:18 into the middle period, Mike Weaver tied the game at 3 with his first goal of the series. Subsequently, Devils' Head Coach Peter DeBoer pulled Martin Brodeur from the cage and turned things over to back-up Johan Hedberg. Brian Campbell scored Florida's third power play goal of the night at the 6:34 mark to give the Panthers the lead. Sloppy play doomed the Devils for the rest of the period as they were unable to get the equalizer. Both teams headed off to the locker room for the second intermission as the Devils trailed 4-3.
The Devils limited Florida to six shots on goal in the final twenty minutes of the hockey game. Unfortunately, the Devils themselves were held to nine and were unable to tie the game. Although New Jersey had several key opportunities, Clemmensen stepped up big for the Panthers. Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Patrik Elias all had marvelous chances to tie the game but fell just short. Kovalchuk's body language in the third period was nothing short of terrible. Kovy seemed frustrated and let his poor performance affect his effort for the remainder of the game. On several occassions, the Devils turned the puck over and were lazy when chasing after a loose puck.
The Devils are back at it in Game Four of this best-of-seven series on Thursday night (7 PM EST, Prudential Center). New Jersey really needs to step it up and win. If the Devils fall behind in the series 3-1, I really don't see them advancing to the next round, especially with Game Five set to be played in Florida. One thing is for sure, if the Devils are going to win this series, Game Six will have to be played. Parise, Kovalchuk, and Elias really need to step it up and start leading. Martin Brodeur also needs to stop hiding behind the excuse of a young defense. He has playoff experience and needs to show it. If there's ever a time for clutch play, it's now.
Make sure you follow the "Running With The Devils" staff on twitter: @RealScottRobb, @DEVIN88MATTER, and @Rvaidya33. Check us out on facebook, too! I'll see YOU at the Prudential Center on Thursday as we cheer on Jersey's team and hope for a win! Good night, Devils fans!
Coming home from Florida with a 1-1 split isn’t a bad thing and in fact, it is pretty much how I pictured this series. The one difference is that I thought Florida would have won game 1 and NJ would have won game 2 but the result is the same and I am not upset about coming home with the series tied. What I am upset with is how the Devils have played overall. The Devils have only put together 2 decent periods of hockey over a 2 game stretch. The first period of game 1 was an amazing display of talent, hunger and domination. The other good period, period 3 in game 2, was just a little too late but it did make for an interesting ending. The Devils need to do a more consistent job from the opening faceoff to the final whistle. Hopefully they understand that and hopefully it changes starting with tonight’s matchup.
Devils coach Peter DeBoer announced this morning that he will not be making any adjustments to the lineup. I was kind of hoping that DeBoer might swap Henrique and Zajac but he’s keeping them the way they were. Nothing against Zajac but I felt that he was having trouble with the speed of Parise and Kovalchuk, which is expected having missed a lot of time this year. Henrique did a fantastic job with them all year.
Some of things I will be watching tonight
- I think Marty has been doing enough in order to win but he hasn’t put the team on his back and taken over either. If there is one complaint that I have from the first two games, it would be the placement of the rebounds that Weiss scored on twice.
- The defense has been doing a decent job except for one Anton Volchenkov. He’s looked out of his element and has made a ton of mistakes. He needs to fix it quickly.
- This time of year isn’t about your big stars. Occasionally they will come through and get it done but to win playoff hockey, it comes down to the grinders. The Devils did a great job of that in period 1 of game 1 but it went away. I need more from Clarkson, Zubrus and Carter to name a few in order to feel that the Devils have a shot.
- Penalty Killling – Holy cow has it been god awful. This is a team that set an NHL record in the regular season only to have the wheels come completely off. I didn’t think the Panthers had a terrific PP unit but they’ve made us look silly. Word of advice to the Devils PK units: try not to let Jason Garrison shoot the puck on the PP. That dude has a fricken canon of a shot.
- The Devils are a lousy 3-7 at home in the playoffs since moving to the Prudential Center. That changes tonight!!
- The Devils motto this spring is “Swarm It Up”… cmon boys, time to start swarming it up….
Be sure to follow our group of guys on twitter, especially during the games. We aren’t the most quiet people in the world!! In case you aren’t following us, here are the links so now you have no excuse!!
Hey everyone. Today, I was going to add a new feature to Running With the Devils, known as Monday Masala (I’ll get to the meaning in a moment). Due to a last minute emergency, I won’t be writing in detail today. However, I’ll get you all introduced to this new feature so you all know what to expect every Monday from this point on.
Well most of you must be wondering what is “Masala”. It’s a South Asian term for a mixture of spices - and my origins are from there so I thought it would be a fitting title. Essentially, I would go into detail looking at all of the Devils players and their respective performances (whether it be in game or on the stat sheet). Then I would pick out the players who most stand out and place them in a “Spicy/Stale” category. After that you will see an explanation as to why the players I picked were either “Spicy” (performing exceptionally) or “Stale” (performing not so well). While the names for the categories do seem hilarious at first look, that’s what spices are – spicy or stale. After that, I’ll put my perspective into the team as a whole and determine which category they (the Devils) belong into. If my mind is still a bit unclear (this will apply for the team only), I would put them into the “Mild” category (as mild is neither spicy nor bland). This week (because of personal time constraints), you’ll only see my opinion of the team. Hopefully you guys will enjoy this addition and I promise there will be more detail next time. Feel free to send me your opinions/criticisms as well; my opinions won’t always match yours. Thanks for the support!
If there’s anything we learned from the first two playoff games, it’s that the Devils have been a bit shaky. Their best periods were Period 1 in Game 1 and Period 3 in Game 2. That’s because they’ve only scored their total series goals in those periods (3 and 2 respectively). Florida, on the other hand, is just a bit more spread out period-wise in scoring. The Devils had a shaky 1st period in Game 2, disastrous 2nd periods in both games, but pretty beneficial 3rd periods. Giving the Devils the “spicy” card isn’t possible now. If they continued to play like how they did from the 1st period in Game 1 up to this point, they would’ve gotten the “spicy” card and be up 2-0 in the series rather than be split at 1 game apiece. Though, you can’t say they’re “stale” either because they’ve done their best to shake off those blunders. My vote? MILD!
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