The Devils head to Philly tonight, leading the series 3-1 and look to put the final nail in the Flyers coffin. Anyone that follows this rivalry knows that we should see a very desperate and physical Flyers team. In the 4 games that have been played so far this series, I don’t think we’ve seen the Flyers team that knocked off the cup favorite Penguins in round 1. In fact, the Flyers have been playing stupid hockey and have been making the same mistakes that they forced Pittsburgh into making in round 1. I am prepared to see a battle tonight.
There are two big story lines going into tonight’s matchup. The first being that the Flyers are facing elimination, which most people didn’t believe would happen after their domination of the Penguins in round 1. The second being that if the Flyers are going to escape elimination tonight, they are going to have to do it without their leading scorer Claude Giroux, who will be serving a 1 game suspension for his hit on Zubrus in Game 4.
Thoughts on Giroux: Honestly, I was a little surprised. I thought he’d get nothing more than a fine being that he’s an important player and typically you don’t see that caliber of player suspended this far into a series, but Shanahan continues to make us guess at what he might do in any situation. I don’t disagree with Shanny, the hit targeted the head and Giroux was certainly being a baby on the ice prior to the hit but I am surprised he would suspend the team’s best player in an elimination game. I also don’t think it is going to matter much. The Flyers were either going to have their best player on the ice tonight if he didn’t get a suspension or as the case is now, I expect a team to rally around the feeling that they got a raw deal. Either way, the Flyers are going to bring it tonight.
Thoughts on the Devils: What can I say about this team? They just need to keep on doing what they’ve been doing. They played an amazing game on Sunday night and I really have a hard time picking out the things they did wrong. Yes, they need to stay out of the box but the PK looks a lot better this series. Yes, they sat back a little in the 3rd which is something they can’t do tonight. The crowd was amazing on Sunday night, the loudest I’ve ever heard but we don’t have that tonight since the Flyers are at home.
In order to win this game tonight, each Devil will have to do their part. Don’t expect your line mate is going to do it for you. Play as a team, communicate with each other and play a full 60 minutes.
I know its a football movie but I love the line....
I am a little surpised... Now, we need to FINISH THEM!!
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...
|There was a lot of talk about Kovalchuk missing Game 2 both before and during the game on Tuesday. By the end of the game all that seemed to matter was that the Devils went into Philly, stayed focused and came away with a 4 goal 3rd period and knocked off the Flyers 4-1 which evened the series at 1 game a piece as this series shifts to the Prudential Center for games 3 & 4.
I've been preaching all playoffs that this time of year isn't neccesarily about the superstars. The opposition puts so much focus on stopping guys like Parise, Kovalchuk and Elias that you need other guys to step up. That's exactly how it played out Tuesday with Larsson, Clarkson and Zajac scoring keys goals for the Devils.
|1. Claude Giroux - He was quiet in game 2 but he was a huge part of the success in Round 1. He won't stay quiet for long, or at least will try not to stay quiet.
2. Ilya Bryzgalov - How does he respond. Game 2 was kind of like the way his season has been. Great start followed up by a complete breakdown. Is his psyche shattered? Is he too worried about bears, who lost more monkeys in space or that the "universe is huMANGous beeg"
3. Wayne Simmonds - We saw him running his mouth and getting in faces at the end of Game 2. I'm actually surprised it took that long. I'm sure he will do his best to get under the skin of some Devils tonight.
|1. Travis Zajac - Right now, he's on the top of my list when it comes to the Devils MVP in the post-season. He's scored some clutch goals and he seems to be the type of player that the other team overlooks.
2. Adam Larsson - So first postseason game under his belt and shared in the role of being a hero as his game tying goal seemed to be the key to opening the flood gates. First playoff game is an emotional ride, how does he respond in game 2?
3. Marty Brodeur - He's been stellar since Game 6 of the first round. The Devils need him to continue with this kind of play if they stand a shot at getting to the Eastern Conference Finals.
|Scott Hartnell-Claude Giroux-Jaromir Jagr
Brayden Schenn-Danny Briere-Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read-James van Riemsdyk-Jakub Voracek
Max Talbot-Sean Couturier-Eric Wellwood
Kimmo Timonen-Matt CarleBraydon
|Zach Parise-Patrik Elias-David Clarkson
Petr Sykora-Travis Zajac-Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky-Adam Henrique-Steve Bernier
Ryan Carter-Stephen Gionta-Ilya Kovalchuk
Andy Greene-Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador-Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov-Adam Larsson
** this is what happened in the morning skate. Time will tell if Kovalchuk plays tonight. I'm sure he's a game time decision **
Flyers will win if … If they can bring up the tempo and the physicallity of the game. Brodeur can be beaten if they create traffic and the occasional bump in the crease, we saw that in Game 1.
Devils will win if... they keep up with the Penalty Killing. I thought most of the losses in Round 1 were due to allowing the Panthers momentum from power play success. We saw Philly gain momentum in Game 1 when they scored on the PP as well suffered when they went 0/5 in Game 2.
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!!
Here we go…GAME 2!! It’s been a pretty busy morning around the New Jersey Devils as they prepare for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers. News came out this morning that Ilya Kovalchuk will be out of tonight’s game with an undisclosed injury. This, only days after telling reporters that he was fine. I said it early into the Panthers series that he didn’t look himself, that it was more than playoff nerves. Hopefully, it’s not too serious and he will get back out there soon.
There are a few problems with Kovalchuk out of the lineup. The most obvious is that the power play will now be missing one of its point men. Zidlicky will have to make up for that loss but not having to defend Kovalchuk’s slapper from the point is certainly an advantage for any penalty killing unit. The second is that the Devils will need to replace the minutes that belong to Kovalchuk and I certainly don’t know how they are going to do that. Finally, Laviolette’s job just got easier because he can concentrate on his matchups against Parise and Elias a little more closely. Kovy hasn’t put a lot of pucks in the net but certainly a key piece to this team.
Here are the lines we will probably be looking at tonight:
Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Petr Sykora - Travis Zajac - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Adam Henrique - Steve Bernier
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Peter Harrold
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Adam Larsson
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
So Larsson will make his playoff debut because Harrold moves up to the 4th offense, Bernier to the 3rd line in order to move Clarkson up to the first line. What???? I’m very curious as to what DeBoer sees in Harrold to think that he should be playing defense in any series, can make the transition from Offense to Defense. Part of me thinks that he just threw names against the wall to see what would stick in order to make tonight’s line combinations. One thing is clear in my mind, this game is about Marty stealing us a win.
Things I want to see tonight:
- STAY OUT OF THE BOX. The one thing I have learned in these playoffs is that a great PK during the regular season means absolutely nothing. We continue to lose games because we give the opposition opportunities up a man.
- Get the pucks on net. A lot of people are picking Philly to win the cup but I don’t see how they can when Bryzgalov lets in so many goals he shouldn’t. It’s the playoffs, no way Sykora should have been able to put the tying goal home the other night.
- Survive the second period. I don’t know what else to say but the second period has been a place that we’ve let a lot of teams back into the game.
- Take it shift by shift. Especially with the line juggling, it’s important to remember to take it shift by shift.
Tonight is important because I really don’t want to go back to the Rock down 2-0 to a very confident Flyers team.
With Kovy back home in NJ, I guess Braydon Schenn’s jaw is safe!!
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!