The Eastern Conference Semifinals are upon us and your New Jersey Devils are gearing up for their match-up with the Philadelphia Flyers. With the series set to begin on Sunday, April 29, the Devils will have a short rest coming off their double-overtime victory over Florida early Friday morning. The series promises big hits, great saves, and a whole lot of trash talk.
Who: The sixth-seeded New Jersey Devils will take on the fifth-seeded Philadelphia Flyers. The Devils finished the regular season with 102 points, just one behind the Flyers. The last time New Jersey knocked the Flyers out of the playoffs, Bill Clinton was President and a gallon of gas was just $1.51. Yep, you guessed it. The year was 2000 and the Devils were on their way to a Stanley Cup victory. Down 3-1 in the series, New Jersey rallied to beat the Flyers in seven games and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Season Series: New Jersey faired pretty well against the Flyers this season. Technically, the Flyers won the series with a record of 3-2-1 (7 points), while the Devils went 3-3-0 (6 points). The Flyers outscored New Jersey by a tally of 18-15 in the regular season.
Do I Smell Stanley Cup: This will definitely be an interesting series. If New Jersey is able to knock off the Flyers in the second round, the Devils will have a lot of momentum heading in to the Eastern Conference Finals. Both of these teams are just 12 wins away from winning it all.
Key Players: Martin Brodeur will be huge for the Devils this round. Brodeur went 1-3 against the Flyers this year, but posted an impressive 2.26 GAA and .905 SV%. Marty picked up career win number 650 against the Flyers on March 11, a game that I was in attendance for. Ilya Kovalchuk now knows what has to be done in order to win a playoff series; look for Kovy to step up big in the second round. On the opposite side of the puck, Claude Giroux will play an important role for the Flyers in the Semifinals. Giroux is coming off a fantastic series against the Pittsburgh Penguins and is for sure one of the top players in the NHL. Does Martin Brodeur have enough to stop Giroux and his top-line buddies?
Prediction: I went 2-for-3 in my predictions last round. I said that Adam Henrique would be a key player for the Devils and he ended up with two goals in Game Seven. I also said that the Devils and Flyers would meet in the Conference Semifinals. However, my predicted "sweep" of the Florida Panthers wasn't so great, so I will try to be a bit more realistic this time around. Devils in six. New Jersey wins G1, G3, G4, and G6; with that, the Devils will advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers.
Above: New Jersey's Ilya Kovalchuk fights Brayden Schenn during a scrum that followed Zac Rinaldo's dangerous trip of Zach Parise. (Photo by Eric Hartline/US Presswire)
Make sure you follow the @RWTDblog staff on twitter: @RealScottRobb, @DEVIN88MATTERA, and @Rvaidya33. Check us out on facebook, too. If you haven't already, check out our photo gallery of highs and lows from round one of the playoffs. I will see YOU at Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at the Prudential Center on May 6 at 7:30 PM. LET'S GO DEVILS!
The Eastern Conference Semifinals are upon us and your New Jersey Devils are gearing up for their match-up with the Philadelphia Flyers. With the series set to begin on Sunday, April 29, the Devils will have a short rest coming off their double-overtime victory over Florida early Friday morning. The series promises big hits, great saves, and a whole lot of trash talk.
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!
Game 7!! Two words filled with anticipation and drama. A game in which all things are equal and the past is meaningless. 82 regular season games and 6 playoff games of sweat, pain and sacrifice comes down to 1 game, 60 minutes of hockey. For one of these teams, tomorrow means preparing for the next stage of battle on the road to hockey’s ultimate prize while the other cleans out their lockers and prepares for a summer of what ifs. There is nothing like a game 7.
Hopefully for the players, they don’t look at it that way because that is A LOT of pressure but the question of the day is, who has more pressure on them? Florida or New Jersey?
This series has followed the script of what a playoff series should be, except maybe it was missing the bad blood that you sometimes see. Each game has had its proverbial ebbs and flows, so I am not surprised we’ve ended up in a Game 7, winner take all death match. I do think overall that NJ has been the better team and hopefully will be the better team tonight, which is all that matters.
The biggest frustration so far this postseason has been a guy like Clarkson who had a huge year but has been very quiet in these playoffs. It’s not usually the super stars, the snipers that win you games this time of year. It’s those grinders, those guys that live in front of the net. The Devils 4th line, which didn’t really exist for much of the season, has been huge in this series. I need Clarkson to be huge tonight.
Keys To The Game:
- Tighten up defensively. The Devils did a decent job for most of game 5 but allowing 2 goals on only 4 shots in the 2nd the other night is not tight defense. Fix that!!
- Speaking of the 2nd period – SURVIVE!!! Florida has owned that period which has given them a couple of wins. It’s been a recurring theme all year that the Devils miss a period. DON’T let it happen tonight.
- Try and take the crowd out early. It’s game 7, they’ll be pumped and loud but if you can get them out of the game early, it will make it easier.
- The only safe lead is the one that we have when the clock read 3rd period :00. Don't sit back on anything.
- Throw pucks at the net because you never know. Look at Bernier’s goal the other night, he chased it to the boards, turned around and just threw it at the net. Florida should have stopped it but it snuck in. You can’t get those bounces if you don’t throw it at the net.
- Simplify the game, don’t over think it. Too many times we try to get cute with the puck.
- Play hard for however many minutes the game last tonight, hopefully only 60. Don’t let up,keep the foot on the gas. If you get the chance to squeeze the life out of them, then by all means…
A Plea To Marty Brodeur
PLEASE…no soft goals. Fight like you haven’t fought in a long time. Channel that Marty from 10 years ago that used to put this team on his back and steal games. You did it just a couple of games ago, we are looking for one more tonight. Live to play another series, we the fans aren’t ready for this to end and you as the goalie are our last line of defense. If they can’t get it by you, then they can’t win.
There was a conversation on twitter yesterday about “Miracle” which led to my feeling old because that game is actually my first hockey memory I have and the people I was talking to told me that they weren’t even thoughts in their parents minds at the time. That just means they are like 29 or 30 right??. ANYWAY, when it comes to inspirational hockey speeches, I think the Herb Brookes speech that was shown in Miracle ranks up there as the best.
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!
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).
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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.
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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!!