Throughout the offseason, The Devils’ Den will preview the Devils 2010-2011 schedule, giving you an in-depth preview of the 29 other teams the Devils will face next season. We’ve already completed several previews, all of which can be found under the “Season Preview” tab. In today’s preview, we go to the Atlantic Division, taking a look at this season’s matchup with a hated rival, the Philadelphia Flyers.
Flyers vs. Devils – Historical Data
In 204 all-time meetings against the Flyers, the Devils are 88-95-13-3. In those 204 matchups, the Devils have averaged 2.97 goals against Philadelphia, but have allowed the Flyers to average 3.42 per meeting. Last season, the Devils went 1-4-1 against their rivals during the regular season. The Flyers also defeated the Devils, 4-1, in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, ending the Devils season.
The Devils opened their season against the Flyers, losing the opener, 5-2, at the Prudential Center. Jeff Carter opened the scoring, giving the Flyers a lead, 1-0, at 15:57 of the first period. The Flyers continued the offensive output in the second period. Ian Laperriere netted an even-strength tally at 9:20 of the period to extend the Flyers lead to 2-0. Mike Richards would add a goal at 15:23 to push the Flyers lead to 3-0. But the offense wouldn’t stop there.
Darrell Powe increased the Flyers lead to 4-0 with an even-strength goal at 7:34 of the third period. Brian Rolston ruined Ray Emery’s shutout, scoring a powerplay goal at 9:44 of the period to bring the score to 4-1. Matt Carle would reinstate the four-goal lead, scoring at 11:13 to put the Flyers ahead, 5-1. Jamie Langenbrunner tallied a shorthanded goal at 13:40 to cut the lead to 5-2.
The Flyers would once again defeat the Devils, 3-2, on November 16 in Philadelphia. Powe opened the scoring, giving the Flyers a lead, 1-0, with an even strength goal at 7:11 of the first period. Scott Hartnell increased the lead to 2-0, scoring with the man-advantage only 44 seconds into the second period. David Clarkson cut the deficit in half, tallying a powerplay goal at 15:42 of the period. James van Riemsdyk scored the eventual game-winning goal at 10:38 of the third period, increasing the Flyers lead to 3-1. Zach Parise scored an even-strength goal at 19:59 of the third, bringing the score to 3-2.
The Devils defeated the Flyers, 4-1, for their only win against their rivals on December 12 at the Prudential Center. Niclas Bergfors scored the game’s first goal, putting the Devils ahead, 1-0, with a powerplay tally at 2:33 of the first period. Bergfors would strike again on the man advantage at 12:31, extending the Devils lead to 2-0. Patrik Elias netted his then-300th career goal at 15:47 of the period, increasing the Devils lead to 3-0.
Claude Giroux snapped the shutout at 15:03 of the second period, netting a powerplay goal and bringing the score to 3-1. Elias scored another goal at 19:26 of the period, upping the Devils lead to 4-1. Martin Brodeur finished with 22 saves (and a powerplay assist) in the win. Brian Boucher stopped 24 shots in the loss.
The Flyers defeated the Devils on February 8, winning the first game of a home-and-home series, 3-2, at the Wachovia Center. Parise gave the Devils an early lead, netting a powerplay goal at 7:00 minutes of the first period for a 1-0 advantage. Anssi Salmela doubled the Devils lead, scoring a shorthanded goal at 1:01 of the second period. But the defenseman paid a hefty price, as Carter leveled him as he took the shot. Salmela would lay motionless on the ice, and was eventually taken off on a stretcher. Here’s the video:
After that hit, the ice titled in the Flyers favor. Van Riemsdyk scored at 18:24 to cut the Devils lead to 2-1. Carter tied the game at 19:36, scoring an even-strength goal to knot the game at 2-2. Richards scored the game-winning goal, scoring with the man advantage at 12:02 of the third period to give the Flyers a 3-2 lead.
Continue reading for the rest of the recap!
The windfall from systems arbitrator Richard Bloch’s decision to uphold the NHL’s rejection of Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million agreement with the Devils spread past the player and organization.
The NHL, fresh off the empowering decision, have decided to investigate similar deals to decide whether or not those contracts violate the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. This decision by commissioner Gary Bettman could alienate fans and, far worse, impact the credibility of those running the league.
In his ruling, Bloch made sure to mention four other long-term contracts that are structured similar to the rejected Kovalchuk deal. Those deals – given to Robert Luongo, Chris Pronger, Marc Savard and Marian Hossa – all were front-loaded deals that help drive down their cap hit.
Bloch noted that these deals haven’t escaped the eye of the league.
“The apparent purpose of this evidence is to suggest that the League’s concern is late blooming and/or inconsistent. Several responses are in order: First, while the contracts have, in fact, been registered, their structure has not escaped League notice: those SPCs [standard player’s contracts] are being investigated currently with at least the possibility of a subsequent withdrawal of the registration.”
There’s one key issue with that last statement – “subsequent withdrawal of the registration.” Two players, Hossa and Pronger, already played under these contracts. Denying both players the ability to play out a contract that was already approved would be ridiculous. If the NHL had an issue with this deal, then they should have rejected the deal or reviewed it closer. The league should not deny the players the ability to play under a guaranteed contracts which were already approved last season. Should the league then review the contract of Henrik Zetterberg? By reviewing this deal, the NHL is setting a bad precedent – one that will tell the players that, even if a deal was approved at one time, it can be rejected at any point.
The other two players – Luongo and Savard – begin their extensions this season. In an e-mail to the Vancouver Sun, Canucks general manager Mike Gillis confirmed that the league is investigating Luongo’s contract. Savard’s contract, according to Bruins’ G.M. Peter Chiarelli, has been under investigation since its filing in December. The key point with these contracts are that both were approved despite investigations. Bloch’s decision shouldn’t mean that the league renews its vigor on finding “cap circumvention” within any of their deals.
Read after the jump to see why I believe the league is setting a bad precedent for future contracts with these new investigations.
Yesterday, I put up my initial reaction to the ruling that Ilya Kovalchuk’s 17-year, $102 million contract had been denied. The response was posted about an hour after the initial ruling, and quotes from system arbitrator Richard Bloch’s decision were scarce.
Eventually, quotes from the decision began circulate, and now, with more information, I can give a better opinion on today’s events. And, when looking at the quotes, I’ve come to find that Bloch’s evidence for his ruling doesn’t fully satisfy me. Bloch’s reasoning, while good, doesn’t provide a solid case against the Devils or the contract.
First Point of Contention – Age
One of the first quotes I read dealt with Kovalchuk’s age when the contract expired. Kovalchuk would be 44 when the contract ended, which is old for any professional athlete. That age, according to Bloch, made it unbelievable that Kovalchuk would play out his contract.
“…Kovalchuk is 27 years old, and the agreement contemplates his playing until just short of his 44th birthday,” Bloch wrote. “That is not impossible, but it is, at the least, markedly rare. Currently, only one player in the League has played past 43 and, over the past 20 years only 6 of some 3400 players have played to 42.”
Bloch is completely correct – it is quite rare for NHL players to continue their careers after 40. But we’ve seen this occur in recent seasons. Chris Chelios, the ageless wonder, played with the Atlanta Thrashers this season at age 48. Mike Modano, who turned 40 this summer, signed a one-year contract to play with Detroit this off-season. While it’s not common, it can be done.
One can assume that Kovalchuk may not play until he’s 44. But the left-winger has never suffered a major injury, and his style isn’t one of a power forward. There’s always a physical element in hockey, but Kovalchuk has managed to stay healthy during his career. As I said before, Kovalchuk also doesn’t play in front of the net, where players are continually cross-checked and beat up. He’s not an enforcer, and rarely does he fight. The wear and tear on Kovalchuk is significantly less than other players, and if he can continue to stay healthy then there’s no reason to assume he wouldn’t play until age 44.
Also, Bloch failed to take into account other similar deals. Marian Hossa’s contract brings him to age 42. Ditto with the contract Philadelphia gave Chris Pronger. Vancouver’s extension with Roberto Luongo brings the goalie to 43 years old. These three contracts, all front-loaded deals, were accepted despite driving the players over the 40+ plateau. What separates these players from others? One can argue that Pronger and Luongo play more physically demanding positions, lessening their chances of playing past 40. But those contracts were allowed by the league, while Bloch found age to be a reason to deny Kovalchuk’s deal.
I understand that age in this contract is a concern, but using that as a reason to disallow a contract isn’t strong evidence. With the league already approving prior deals that bring players past the age 40 plateau, age should not have been such a large determining factor in the decision.
Continue after the jump for further arguments against Bloch’s decision!
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!
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.
The Matchup: The Philadelphia Flyers (0-0-0) face off against the New Jersey Devils (0-0-0). This is the first game of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals matchup.
Season Series: The Flyers won five of six from the Devils, marking the first time since 1989-99 that the Flyers won five games from their rivals. In the final matchup of the season, the Flyers defeated the Devils, 5-1, knocking out Martin Brodeur after the second period. Claude Giroux and Chris Pronger led Philadelphia in scoring in the season series, each totaling seven points. Patrik Elias led all Devils’ scorers with two goals and five assists. Brodeur, however, didn’t fare to well, going 1-4-1 with a 3.34 goals-against average.
Series Scope: This is the fourth meeting between the rivals in the postseason. The Devils won the first two matchups, the 1995 and 2000 Eastern Conference finals, en route to two Stanley Cup victories. The Flyers finally defeated the Devils in 2004, beating them in five games in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Tonight’s Matchup: The biggest thing is to get off to a good start. The Flyers, who have been on a tear as of late, are going to come out and play physical. The Devils’ need to match their intensity hit for hit and shift for shift. If the Devils can do that, they’ll have a pretty solid base to build on.
Just meeting the energy of the Flyers won’t be enough. The Devils need to pressure the Flyers and Brian Boucher. He’s been solid his past few starts, but Boucher isn’t great. We’ve seen him make simple mistakes time and time again. If the Devils can get some early pressure on the defense, they should be able to force an early goal. If the Devils can get on the board first, it will give them an early edge in momentum, which never hurts.
While it’s only game one, it’s always nice to win the first game. Gametime is 7:30 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSGPlus (in the New York area). Check back here with The Devils’ Den for a live game blog, beginning at 7:15 p.m.