Another year, another first-round playoff exit for the New Jersey Devils. The team couldn’t find the drive tonight, and the Philadelphia Flyers were able to withstand the Devils pressure in the first period. They even escaped with a lucky break, as Zach Parise sent the puck off the post with the Devils on the powerplay. After that, they put the clamp on, with Claude Giroux scoring two goals to end any thoughts of a Devils comeback. The Devils went down with a whimper, 3-0, and bow out in the first round for the third consecutive year.
1. Jamie Langebrunner Tripping Penalty – 1:29 of the first period
Daniel Carcillo gave the Devils an early opportunity, allowing the Devils to get the first man advantage of the game. It opened the door to potentially give the Devils early momentum in this decisive game five. Less than 45 seconds later, that opportunity would disappear. Langenbrunner took a tripping penalty in the offensive zone, ending the Devils’ powerplay. The Flyers would use that penalty to their advantage only minutes later.
2. Daniel Briere’s Powerplay Goal Gives Flyers 1-0 Lead – 3:16 of the first period
The Flyers took advantage of their first powerplay opportunity, lighting the lamp to take an early 1-0 lead. With Langenbrunner in the box for tripping, Giroux held the puck in the Devils’ zone. He passed the puck to Briere in the left circle, but the puck skipped off Briere’s skate and between Martin Brodeur’s pads for Briere’s second goal of the series.
3. Colin White’s Double Minor – 4:15 of the second period
With the Devils down, 1-0, the Flyers gave them the opportunity to tie the game with a penalty to David Laliberte at 3:46 of the period. But, once again, the Devils took a penalty in the offensive zone to end the chance. Colin White, playing forward on the powerplay, took a whack at Brian Boucher after the goalie held the puck between his pads. A scuffle ensued, with White and Ian Laperriere trading a few late jabs. Both players went to the box, and the Devils continued to shoot themselves in the foot.
4. Parise’s Shot Hits Post – 5:10 of the second period
The Flyers’ continued to hand the Devils’ chances to get back into the game. With the teams playing four-on-four hockey, Briere saved a goal with a nice stick check on Travis Zajac. But the forward then took a holding penalty, giving the Devils 44 seconds of a 4-on-3 powerplay opportunity. Parise worked himself down to the front of the net. He found a loose puck and tried to stuff it by Boucher. The puck passed the goalie, but tipped off the left post.
5. Giroux’s Goal Extends Flyers Lead To Two – 1148 of the second period
Giroux had been playing a terrific series, and it continued in game five. With the Devils pressuring the Flyers, Giroux gave his team some breathing room with his third goal of the playoffs. Blair Betts took the initial shot, which Brodeur stopped. The puck skittered to the corner, where it was sent in front. Mike Richards, crashing the net, tipped the puck back to the slot. Giroux one-timed the puck over Brodeur’s glove and into the top corner for the goal.
6. Giroux’s Powerplay Goal Extends Flyers Lead To Three – 13:51 of the second period
Giroux lit the lamp again, putting the nail in the coffin on the series with his second goal of the game. With Dean McAmmond in the box for high-sticking, Briere let go a shot from the point. Scott Hartnell, who was screening Brodeur, was hit with the shot on the crease. The puck game to Giroux, who fired a low shot into the empty net for his fourth goal of the series. That goal ended what little playoff life the Devils had left.
Oh No, Not Another Powerplay Chance
I can’t remember a time I hated to watch a team get a powerplay. But, during this series, the Devils made me hate the whistle. The Devils couldn’t figure out their powerplay the entire series. The Devils went 0-for-8 tonight, and they were never able to make the Flyers pay for their mistakes. Overall, the Devils went 4-for-32 (12.5%) during the series. That’s plain unacceptable. There were times when the Devils powerplay looked creative and effective. But those times were few and far between. The Devils powerplay was dull, unimaginative and lacked creativity. They couldn’t take advantage of the Flyers’ aggressive penalty kill or the forwards that dove down to block shots. As a result, they allowed the Flyers to escape with undisciplined hockey time and time again.
Get Me A Magnifying Glass, I Need To Find The Devils’ Offense
Over the final six periods of this series, the Devils scored one – that’s right, ONE – goal. Except for game two, the Devils offense was non-existent. The Devils averaged 1.80 goals per game this series. That won’t win a series, and the results reflect that effort. The Devils scorers were shut down, with Zajac and Parise only scoring one goal in the series. Patrik Elias was held without a goal. Give credit to the Flyers, who stymied the Devils offense throughout the series. But the Devils offense, which looked so promising coming into the series, disappeared. Even with the play of Brodeur, the team wouldn’t be able to last without pressuring Boucher.
Continue reading after the jump for the rest of the recap.
I literally don’t know what to say about the Devils performance tonight. At first, I was enraged by the lack of aggression and the Devils’ lack of patience. But now, after taking a break from hockey, I’ve come to realize I’m just shocked that the team can look this bad right now. They’ve scored the first goal in each of the past three games, but after that they’ve failed to play a sixty-minute game. After Ilya Kovalchuk lit the lamp, the Flyers scored four unanswered goals to sweep the two home games. The Devils now head home with a 3-1 series deficit.
1. Kovalchuk’s 5-on-3 Powerplay Goal
The Devils wanted to come out in game four and be more aggressive in the Flyers’ zone. Two early penalty calls helped their cause, as the Devils received an early 5-on-3 powerplay opportunity. With both Braydon Coburn and Chris Pronger in the box, the Devils took advantage of their opportunity. Zach Parise sent a pass up the ice, springing the Devils on a 4-on-2. Kovalchuk moved into the zone, and used a fake shot to freeze Blair Betts. Kovalchuk cut to the right circle and fired a shot on net that beat Brian Boucher for Kovalchuk’s second goal of the series.
2. Jeff Carter’s Powerplay Goal
Down 1-0, the Flyers began to press the Devils’ defense and get quality scoring chances. But Martin Brodeur was sharp, and it looked like he might steal the game. But luck turned the Flyers’ way with an interference penalty to Rob Niedermayer at 8:51 of the second period. With Niedermayer in the box, Daniel Briere held the puck in the Devils zone. He passed the puck to Carter, who was coming out from behind the net. Carter skated the puck through the right circle, and released a shot that beat Brodeur for his first goal of the series.
3. Briere’s Four-On-Four Goal
After their first goal, the Flyers’ continued to pressure the Devils. That effort would pay off, as the Flyers’ would strike for their second goal of the period. With Matt Carle and Travis Zajac in the box, Briere came down the ice with Coburn on a 2-on-2. Coburn sent a pass to Briere on the left side. Briere shot the puck from the side boards that beat Brodeur over the glove for his first goal of the series.
4. The Flyers Kill of James van Riemsdyk’s Penalty
James van Riemsdyk opened the door for the Devils at the end of the second period, taking a roughing minor with 4.6 seconds left. The Devils would get nearly a full powerplay to start the third period. But the Flyers didn’t allow the Devils to set up their powerplay. They played aggressive defense, and in the end took the Devils chance away.
5. Daniel Carcillo Puts The Nail In The Coffin
It seemed like the penalty kill put the Flyers right back on track. Carcillo scored the goal to figuratively end
the game, netting his second of the series at 4:10 of the period. Carcillo began the play, hitting Colin White behind the net to jar the puck loose. Carcillo curled to the side boards, and put a shot on net that beat Brodeur through the pads.
Where Has The Aggression Gone?
The Devils began this game a desperate team. They looked like they wanted a win. They were buzzing, creating their own chances and making Boucher work for every save. But, in the end, that play would disappear near the end of the first period. After that, the Devils were badly outplayed. Philadelphia received the better scoring chances and played a great game. The Devils went back to putting easy shots on net and not pressuring Boucher. They broke down defensively, allowing the Flyers to continually get quality scoring chances. And while Brodeur was good, he wasn’t the same Brodeur as Sunday night. Philadelphia pounced on their opportunities, burying the Devils in the final two periods.
Wanted: An Effective Powerplay
Once again, the Devils teased us with their powerplay. It looked so good at first, creating great chances and making the Flyers work to clear the puck. But, by the end of the game, the Devils reverted back to their old form. No more creativity, no more crisp passes. The team just dumped the puck in, held on to it for too long, and made the Flyers’ job easy on the penalty kill. With the Flyers giving the Devils eight chances tonight, they once again let an opportunity pass. The Devils are now 4-24 (16.7%) with the man advantage in the series.
Continue reading after the jump for the entire game recap!
It seemed as if only one Devil answered the call in tonight’s game three matchup. That Devil? Martin Brodeur. The Devils’ goalie made 31 difficult saves, keeping his team in the game while everything around him crumbled. Without much help from the offense, Brodeur needed to be perfect to keep the team in the game. And he was, until overtime. One puck found its way through, and the Flyers pounced on the opportunity, with Daniel Carcillo netting the overtime winner.
Now, the Devils head into game four Tuesday night with several questions. Will the offense step up? Can the defense play well? Will the Devils figure out how to capitalize on the power play? With all the momentum now on the Flyers’ side, the Devils will have to come out with an inspired effort to take game four and go back home with the series tied.
1. Carcillo’s Game-Winning Goal
The Flyers absolutely dominated the third period, outshooting the Devils, 12-3, and stifling their offense. It seemed like the Flyers would get the first opportunity to win the game, and they seemed to be earning themselves the game three victory with their play. And their opportunity came at 3:35 of the overtime period. Shortly after a failed powerplay chance, the Flyers held the puck in the Devils’ zone. Mike Richards worked the puck to the side of the net and fired a shot on Brodeur. The puck trickled through, and with the defense collapsed around Brodeur, Carcillo crashed the net. He put the puck into the empty net for his first goal of the series, and a huge momentum shift went the Flyers’ way.
2. Brodeur In The Third Period
Every single Devil played a terrible third period, except for Brodeur. If there was one guy in this game who played great, it was Brodeur. Brodeur stood tall, thwarting several quality scoring chances in the third period. Brodeur was his best penalty killer, stopping three great Flyers’ chances on the powerplay at 10:12 of the third period. A shot from the point was re-directed by Claude Giroux in front, and Brodeur went to the splits to make the save. The puck then trickled to the side of the net, where Simon Gagne took control. Brodeur, sitting on the ice, made two saves with his glove before squeezing the puck to his pads for the stoppage in play.
He also made great 5-on-5 saves, like one on Daniel Briere. With the Devils pressing in the Flyers’ zone, Scott Hartnell tipped the puck to center ice. He beat Andy Greene and moved in on Brodeur with Briere on a 2-on-1. He passed the puck to Briere on the left, who let go a shot from the low left circle. Brodeur slid across the crease and made the save.
3. Brian Rolston’s Two-Goal Night
If it wasn’t for Brian Rolston, the Devils would have put up an extremely poor offensive effort tonight. Rolston tallied two powerplay goals – his first two goals of the series – to keep the Devils in the game. His first goal came at 7:15 of the first period, giving the Devils an early 1-0 lead. With Kimmo Timonen in the box for hooking, Ilya Kovalchuk set up Rolston for a straight-on point shot. Rolston initially faked the pass, getting Ian Laperriere to slide down to the ice. Rolston blasted a shot low that went through a Dainius Zubrus screen and past Brian Boucher for his first goal of the series.
The second goal, at 16:38 of the second period, tied the game at two. The goal looked identical to the first, with Kovalchuk set up along the side boards on the powerplay, where he received a pass from Elias. The left-winger sent a pass to Rolston at the point, and Rolston fired a one-timer on net. Zubrus screened Boucher, and the puck went through the skates and into the back of the net for Rolston’s second powerplay tally of the game.
Once again, the refs decided to call a tight game. This gave both teams plenty of opportunities with the man advantage. It seemed the game would hinge on a penalty call. Both teams, but especially the Devils, couldn’t cash in on the man-advantage. The Devils went 2-for-8, only putting seven shots on net. Yes, that’s right, seven shots on eight opportunities. The Devils couldn’t even manage a shot per powerplay. They couldn’t break the Flyers’ penalty kill, and they couldn’t seem to move the puck. Whether it was the lack of aggression or a lack of execution, the powerplay just flat out stunk.
Keep reading after the jump for more of the recap!
Tonight’s game ran me through the gamut of emotions. I went from excited to mad literally minute after minute. But the Devils never got down, and it was Mr. Dependable, Zach Parise, who helped put the Devils ahead for good. It was an exciting game, and now the Devils head to Philadelphia with the series tied, 1-1.
1. Dainius Zubrus’ Game-Winning Goal
Tied at three in the third period, the Devils began to slowly put more and more pressure on the Philadelphia defense. The first line finally cashed in on the pressure, with Zubrus scoring the game-winning goal at 15:56 of the third period. Zubrus took control of the puck behind the net, and skated the puck out. He curled to the front and put a backhanded shot on Brian Boucher. The Flyers’ goalie made the initial save, but Parise and Zubrus found the puck in front. Parise used the blade of Zubrus’ stick to put the shot top-shelf for Zubrus’ first goal of these playoffs.
2. Chris Pronger’s 4-on-3 Powerplay Goal
With the Flyers down, 3-2, in the second period, Devils’ defenseman Andy Greene took an interference penalty. With Ilya Kovalchuk and Darroll Powe already in the box for roughing, the Flyers had a 4-0n-3 powerplay. With the team only 1-for-5 on the man advantage, this represented their chance to get back to even. With Greene in the box, Mike Richards and Kimmo Timonen played pitch and catch, looking for an opportunity to shoot. Timonen fired a shot from the top of the circles that Pronger deflected past Martin Brodeur for his second goal of the playoffs.
3. Brodeur Stones Ian Laperriere In The Third Period
Brodeur made a game-saving stop on Ian Laperriere at 11:10 of the third period. Daniel Carcillo stripped White of the puck in the Flyers offensive zone, and rushed up the ice. He drove the net, but his attempt was swatted away. The loose puck came to the side of the net, and Laperriere received a pass from a Flyer in front of the net. He tried to one-time the puck past Brodeur, but the Devils goalie stood tall and made the save.
4. Devils Kill Three Straight Flyers Powerplays
In the second period, the Devils faced three straight penalty-kill opportunities. It started with a minor to Greene for high-sticking, then Kovalchuk went to the box for slashing. The trip was complete when Colin White was sent off for interference. The Devils killed off all three attempts, keeping the game scoreless and shutting down a dangerous Philadelphia powerplay.
5. Zach Parise Shorthanded Tally
The Devils, who couldn’t manage to score until the third period Wednesday night, got the crucial first goal on Philadelphia’s powerplay. With Kovalchuk in the box for elbowing, Pronger attempted to pass the puck to Matt Carle. Carle couldn’t handle the pass, and fanned on a shot attempt. Patrik Elias chased down the puck and sent a saucer pass to Parise, springing him free. Parise went to the backhand, roofing the puck over Boucher for his first goal of these playoffs.
Biggest Matchup: Goaltending:
Coming into this series, I believed that Boucher was a guy who hit a hot streak but couldn’t perform under pressure. Well, count me among those fans he’s made look stupid. Boucher had another strong night, stopping 28 shots in the loss. Unlike Wednesday night, the Devils challenged Boucher, and the Flyers’ goalie answered the call. The Flyers still lost, but without Boucher in net, it would have been a 10-goal game.
Brodeur was as good as Boucher, if not better. Through two games, it seems Brodeur has his playoff legs under him. He’s been making incredible saves, including the one mentioned above. But that wasn’t his only nice save tonight. Brodeur was there to stone most of the Flyers’ great scoring chances. Two of the three goals he allowed tonight were perfect deflections on the powerplay. Other than that, he was sparkling. If Brodeur continues to play this way, he may steal this series away from the Flyers.
Things I Liked:
1. The First Two Devils Lines
Finally, Devils’ coach Jacques Lemaire put together his two best scoring lines. The ZZ Pops line has always been great, but late in the season, the Devils had something going with Elias and Zubrus playing with Parise. That first line played a great game, constantly putting pressure on the Flyers defense. It also spread the scoring down to the second line, which also looked solid. It seems Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac have developed some chemistry playing together, and I think this would be the best fit for the rest of the playoffs.
2. The Devils’ Penalty Kill
By all means, the Devils played an undisciplined game tonight. They took eight minor penalties, and it almost seemed like the teams had reversed roles from game one. The Flyers’ have an above-average powerplay, and one that can tip a series in their favor. But the Devils penalty kill made sure it didn’t, killing off six of eight penalties tonight. While you never want to see a team playing 16 minutes of shorthanded hockey, the Devils penalty kill showed today that they can potentially neutralize the Flyers’ extra-man attack.
3. Zach Parise
How could you not like the effort of Parise tonight? Not only did he score the key shorthanded goal, he always seemed to motor around the ice. He also showed a willingness to get into the dirty areas, continually crashing the net and causing problems for the Flyers defense. Every forward should take a page from his book. Get to the front of the net, and good things will happen.
Things That Annoyed Me:
1. Ilya Kovalchuk
Maybe Kovalchuk’s empty-net goal will let the left-winger unwind a bit. He allowed the Flyers to get under his skin tonight, resulting in six penalty minutes. He took several dumb penalties, and twice let the team down with his overly physical play. I know Kovalchuk wants to get out there and cause trouble, but he should stick to causing trouble with his stick. The dumb penalties can only hurt the team during the duration of the series.
2. The Borderline Calls
I wonder if the officials know it’s playoff hockey. It seemed like, in game one, the stripes missed a few
obvious calls. Tonight, they seemed to go to the whistle a little too early. David Clarkson’s tripping minor wasn’t a great call, as he swept the puck away from the Aaron Asham’s skates. Also, Greene’s interference call during the 4-on-4 confused me a bit. Yes, he collided with a Flyer behind the play. But it didn’t seem like it should be enough to get a penalty. The officials need to find a happy medium between what is/what is not a penalty.
3. The Flyers’ Third Line
They just annoyed me because they played well. It was surprising to see guys like Asham and Claude Giroux making some solid offensive plays. If the Devils can’t handle these guys, then the Devils give Philadelphia another dimension of offensive firepower.
Game three will be Sunday at 6 p.m. in Philadelphia.
Well, game one of the series wasn’t the best for the New Jersey Devils. The team came out strong, but the Philadelphia Flyers seemed to chip away at the Devils’ home-ice momentum. The second period sunk the Devils, and it just seemed the Flyers locked down defensively after they took the lead. The Devils got back into the game late, and maybe that will continue in game two. But, no matter what the team says, they lost their home-ice advantage and head into Friday’s game down 1-0 in the series.
1. Chris Pronger’s PP Goal
The Devils had controlled most of the first period, and they only took one penalty. The Flyers powerplay can be dangerous, and they showed their skill at 9:25 in the second period. With Dainius Zubrus in the box for hooking, Simon Gagne controlled the puck near the goal line. Gagne sent the puck on net, where Martin Brodeur made the initial save. The rebound came to the front of the crease, where Pronger took a backhanded whack at the puck. It bounced off Brian Rolston and into the net for Pronger’s first goal of the playoffs.
Coach Jacques Lemaire put the blame squarely on Rolston for the goal.
“The thing is Rollie went on the wrong side of Pronger,” Lemaire said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “That’s why he lost the puck. It’s little details when you get in front of the net. It’s all little details. You’ve got to be on the strong side of a player if you want to be able to control him and control the puck when the puck comes.”
2. Mike Richards’ Goal
After the powerplay goal, the Flyers seemed to find their game. They locked down the Devils’ defensively, and they seemed to tilt the momentum in their favor. Richards scored the eventual game-winning goal at 16:57 of the second period. Ian Laperriere created the scoring chance, blocking a clearing attempt by Martin Skoula. Laperriere carried the puck into the Devils’ zone, and sent a spinning, 360 pass to Richards. Richards took a slapshot from the low slot that Brodeur seemed to get a piece of. The puck hit the cross bar and caromed over the line for Richards first goal of the postseason.
3. Flyers Penalty Kill of Oskars Bartulis’ Double Minor
With the Devils down by two goals, Philadelphia gave them a gift-wrapped opportunity to get back into the game. Bartulis hit David Clarkson with a high stick, drawing blood and receiving a four-minute double minor. But the Devils’ powerplay, which struggled all night, couldn’t find a way to set up the powerplay. The Flyers controlled the kill throughout, not allowing the Devils to get set. In four minutes, the Devils only created two scoring chances, and both weren’t anything great. That kill, which began at 2:12 of the period, set the tone for the majority of the period.
Biggest Non-Call: Too Many Men on Richards’ Goal
After watching a replay of the Richards goal, I noticed something – the Flyers had too many men on ice. Richards jumped off the bench and went to play the puck while Blair Betts was still on the ice. It was a very quick play, but these are the types of non-calls that can affect the outcome of the game. If the Devils got the call, the goal would have never been scored, and the result may be different. But, the play occurred without a whistle, and Richards went on to score the goal.
Biggest Save: Brian Boucher Stones Ilya Kovalchuk
The Devils really owned the first period of play, creating chances and putting the Flyers on their heels. If not for the play of Boucher, the Devils may have been up big after the period. The most important save of the game came early in the first period. Zubrus chased a loose puck down in the Flyers zone, and skated out from around behind the net. He sent a pass to the front, which was knocked down near the net. The puck sat between the hash marks, and Kovalchuk let go a wrister. Boucher picked up the puck through a screen and made a glove save, keeping the game scoreless.
Things I Liked
1. Kovalchuk – I know the Devils lost tonight, but one bright spot was the play of Kovalchuk. Some may think it was a bit excessive, and at times he was a bit of a puck hog. But he created five scoring chances himself by the middle of the second period. He was moving out there, and he never gave up on the play. His effort tonight was solid. Kovalchuk was able to play against any line combination the Flyers brought out to oppose him. He didn’t get on the scoresheet, but if he keeps playing this way, he should have a great series.
2. Travis Zajac
The young guys kept playing, and Zajac was one of the big reasons the Devils stayed competitive. Not only did he score the Devils lone goal, but he played pretty well near the end of the game. Zajac is coming off a pretty successful regular season, and I’d expect to see him continue that play in this series.
Things That Annoyed Me:
1. Daniel Carcillo
The Flyers winger always seems to annoy me, but for some reason he reached Sean Avery level tonight in my book. I guess I just don’t like him very much.
2. The Non-Call On Pronger’s High Hit
I understand that the stripes can’t catch every single penalty in every game. But, when Pronger cross-checks Zach Parise to the back of the head, they should make the call. As you can see from the image below, Pronger came up high with a hit. It literally took off Parise’s helmet. While the penalty looks obvious, the refs missed this blatant penalty. Once again, it may be an insignificant play. But the refs need to make consistent calls, and letting something like this slide will not get it done in the playoffs.
Parise would not comment on the hit.
“I don’t know,” Parise said to Gulitti. “It’s not my position to call it, but I have no idea if it should have been or not.”
3. The Devils O-fer On The Powerplay
The Devils had five opportunities with the man advantage. And, you know what they did with those five opportunities? Left them all on the table. The Devils couldn’t get anything going with the man advantage. It literally looked terrible. It was so futile that, by the end of the game, I just counted any powerplay chance a notch in the “successful PK” column for the Flyers. If the Devils are going to win this series, they need to get something done on the powerplay. The Flyers handed them opportunities to get back into this game, but the Devils’ powerplay looked flat all night. It should be something they work on tomorrow and Friday during practice.
Game two will be Friday at 7:30 p.m.