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 second preview, we go to the Eastern Conference, taking a look at this season’s matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Devils vs. Lightning – Historical Data
In 71 all-time regular season games against the Lightning, the Devils are 43-17-7-4. New Jersey averages 3.30 goals against the Tampa Bay while allowing the Lightning to average only 2.18 goals against them. Last season, the teams met four times, with the Devils winning the season series, 3-1-0.
The Devils won the first meeting of the season, 4-3, in a shootout. Zach Parise opened the scoring, giving the Devils a lead, 1-0, at 4:46 of the first period. Steven Stamkos put the Lightning on the board, tying the game, 1-1, with an even-strength tally at 9:49 of the second period. The lead wouldn’t last the period, as Jay Pandolfo put the Devils back on top, 2-1, with a goal at 18:09 of the second.
Stamkos once again tied the game, 2-2, with his second goal at 1:52 of the third period. Todd Fedoruk gave the Lightning their first lead, 3-2, with an even-strength goal at 5:41 of the third. The Devils waited until the last second to make a comeback, with Travis Zajac tying the game, 3-3, at 19:59 of the period. Both Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner scored shootout goals, and Martin Brodeur blanked Tampa Bay’s Stamkos and Alex Tanguay on their attempts to earn a 4-3 win.
The Devils once again defeated the Lighting, 2-1, in a shootout on October 31 at the Prudential Center. Zajac struck first, giving the Devils a lead, 1-0, only 50 seconds into the second period. But Stamkos would ruin another Devils lead, pulling the Lightning even, 1-1, with a goal at 4:34 of the third period. After playing through a scoreless overtime, both teams went to the shootout. The big guns could do nothing against Brodeur and Antero Niittymaki, with both goalies perfect through three rounds. But David Clarkson would change that, as his shootout goal in the fourth round clinched a win and sent the Lightning home on the wrong end of a 2-1 decision.
Brodeur finished with 18 saves for the win. Nittymaki stopped 37 shots in the loss.
The Devils extended their winning streak over the Lightning to three games with a 3-2 win on December 4. After a scoreless first period, Vincent Lecavlier netted the game’s first goal, giving the Lighting a lead, 1-0, at 1:26 of the second period. Brian Rolston tied the game, 1-1, with a powerplay tally at 1:15 of the third period. Niclas Bergfors scored the second powerplay goal of the period, putting the Devils ahead, 2-1. The Lightning would even the score, with Steve Downie netting a powerplay goal at 17:00 to tie the game, 2-2. Langenbrunner stole the game for the Devils in the final minute, putting New Jersey ahead, 3-2, at 19:21 of the final period.
Continue after the jump for the rest of the preview!
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!
Throughout the offseason, I’ll recap the Devils 2009 – 2010 season, covering the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve already covered the Devils overall season, their solid record against the Atlantic Division, and the team’s powerplay. In this post, I’ll take a look at Martin Brodeur, who had a strong bounce-back season after last season’s torn biceps injury.
Coming into the 2009 – 2010 season, the Devils, for the first time in what seems like forever, had a question mark in goal. Brodeur, the career leader in wins, missed four months with a torn biceps injury. Despite his absence, the Devils still soared, reaching 51 wins last year. Everyone realized Brodeur would come back an excellent NHL goalie. But the injury did raise a slight red flag, and the smallest question mark loomed over Brodeur.
Whatever questions critics or fans had, Brodeur answered this past season. Brodeur started 77 games this season, going 45-25-6 with nine shutouts. The 77 games started were the first time in two years Brodeur started that many games. The 45 wins and nine shutouts were tops among NHL goaltenders. On April 19, the NHL named Brodeur a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, along with Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres and Ilya Bryzgalov of the Phoenix Coyotes. Brodeur clearly came back strong after the first major injury of his career.
Brodeur, in what seems to be normal the past few years, set several career milestones this season. On November 27, 2009, Brodeur broke the record for career minutes played by a goaltender, breaking Patrick Roy’s record of 60,275 during the second period of the team’s 2-1 shootout win. Ten days later, the Devils’ goalie tied Terry Sawchuk for first-place on the all-time shutout list with 103 in a 3-0 win over the Sabres. On December 19, Brodeur broke another Roy record, this for the most games played by a NHL goaltender. Then, on December 21, 2009, in one of the sweetest moments of the season, Brodeur shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-0, to break his tie with Sawchuk for the shutout record. Brodeur also reached the 600 win plateau with a 3-0 shutout win over the Atlanta Thrashers on April 6. Brodeur continued to shatter records throughout the year.
But as the Devils entered the playoffs, Brodeur faced questions about his lackluster postseason play. I even questioned it, wondering whether Brodeur needed rest to be sharper for the playoffs. But, once again, Brodeur would prove me wrong. This season’s postseason numbers aren’t impressive (1-4, .881 save %, 3.01 GAA), but I would blame his defense for failing to clear pucks and players from the front of the net. Overall, I’d say Brodeur was one of the only Devils to show up in their first-round loss. He constantly made big saves, keeping the team in Game Three. With an inferior goalie, the Devils would have been swept and beaten soundly. One of the only reasons they were competitive was the play of Brodeur. He did give up some weak goals, but he made some phenomenal saves, including the robbery of Simon Gagne:
Overall, Brodeur had a typical Brodeur season. He started almost every game, collected over forty wins, and posted solid statistics. He did face adversity, even admitting he struggled in the Olympics and the post-Olympics to find his rhythm. Yet, in the end, Brodeur came back strong, helping the Devils to win their ninth straight Atlantic Division title.
The Matchup: The Philadelphia Flyers (3-1) face off against the New Jersey Devils (1-3). This is the fifth game in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals series. The Flyers currently lead the series, 3-1.
Series Scope: Ilya Kovalchuk scored the first goal Tuesday night to take a 1-0 lead after the first period. That would be all the Devils would get. The Flyers scored four unanswered goals – including two from Jeff Carter – and thoroughly whooped the Devils, 4-1. The Devils, admittedly, gave up in the third period. The Devils have only recovered from a 3-1 series deficit once, in 2000 against the Flyers. Devils coach Jacques Lemaire brings experience, as he’s the only coach to come back from a 3-1 series deficit twice in the same playoffs (2003 with the Minnesota Wild). But this won’t be an easy task, because the Devils have already been outscored, 12-9, and rank second in penalties (24) in the playoffs.
Tonight’s Matchup: This could be it for the Devils tonight. Facing a 3-1 deficit, the chances of coming back are somewhat bleak after watching the Devils’ performance this entire series. But the team hasn’t shared this view. In an interview with Kovalchuk, Devils beat reporter Rich Chere asked the left-winger if he’s worried about this game being his last as a Devil.
“No. Because we’re going to win tomorrow,” Kovalchuk said.
That quotes sums up everything the players have said over the past two days. They don’t feel like they’re out of the playoffs yet. While it might be smoke and mirrors, it’s this type of talk that gives me hope. Maybe, just maybe, the Devils can put together an inspired, complete performance and defeat the Flyers. But, in order to do that, the Devils need to play better than they’ve played in the entire series. Bergen Record reporter Tom Gulitti highlighted some of the problems the Devils need to change.
“They certainly won’t be able to do it if they continue having trouble getting out of their zone at even strength,” Gulitti said. “The Flyers have pressured the Devils on the forecheck and the Devils have not been to break out of their zone and through the neutral zone with clean passes. That was a big factor in the last two games during the times when they did skate 5-on-5 (there were 13 power plays in Game 3 and 16 and Game 4). The Devils defensemen have not been able to handle that pressure.”
And that’s just about the defense. Here’s what he had to say about the offense.
“The Devils will have to test (Brian) Boucher more,” he said. “He (Boucher) allowed only one goal in Games 1 and 4 and had to make maybe a handful of difficult saves in both of those games. The Flyers have been doing a good job of blocking shots and have roughed up Zach Parise pretty good, but the Devils have not been doing enough to get to the net annd get to rebounds and have allowed Boucher to become very comfortable.”
I think Gulitti lays out the plan very well. The defenseman need to make better, quicker decisions, and the forwards need to generate traffic and get tough shots on Boucher. If the Devils can do that, they will set themselves up for a big performance and, hopefully, will live to see another game in this series.
The Devils finally caught a break in game four, with injuries to Simon Gagne and Carter. Both will miss the rest of the series, with both undergoing surgeries for foot injuries (Gagne toe, Carter foot). While both haven’t played extremely well, they were two of the top forwards for the Flyers, each averaging over 18 minutes of ice time. Both played significant powerplay time, and Gagne even played on the second penalty-kill unit. While the Devils still have to defend against Mike Richards, Claude Giroux, etc., these two injuries weaken the Flyers. They might not be series-changing injuries, but they should play a role in tonight’s game.
Gametime is 7:00 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSGPlus, Comcast SportsNet and WFAN. Check in with The Devils’ Den tonight for a live game blog of all the game five action!
Tomorrow night can be a sad night at the Rock. The Devils, who outplayed the Penguins all year and clinched second in the division, can be eliminated in the first round of the players for the third consecutive season. Down 3-1, and with the way the Devils have played, this looks almost certain. The Devils face a steep uphill climb to just get a victory tomorrow night.
Despite the odds, the Devils can still stage a comeback. But, in order to be competitive, the team needs leadership, and those leaders need to step up quickly. Who can step up to provide the leadership necessary to lead the team? Here are a few of my options:
1. Coach Jacques Lemaire
Lemaire hasn’t been doing so well in this series. It looks like Flyers’ coach Peter Laviolette has thoroughly outcoached him. The Flyers’ forecheck has been terrific, they’ve continually attacked the Devils’ defense, and the team has never stopped moving since game one. Lemaire has seem subdued, almost emotionally detached to the situation going on around him. But I believe Lemaire can begin a Devils’ turnaround by making a few simple adjustments.
First, Lemaire needs to actually coach. While watching the games, Lemaire seems to take a hands-off approach, especially when the Devils need him most. Lemaire needs to get in the face of his players. He needs to be there, getting in players ears. He needs to make the adjustments in between periods to keep this team sharp. I know Lemaire has been hands-off, but down 3-1, it’s time to break the mold. I’d like to see Lemaire get a little more proactive on the bench and institute in-period changes. It’s the only way to keep up with a Flyers team that has outworked the Devils in four of the series five games.
Lemaire also has the background to help the team rescue the series. In 2003, with the Minnesota Wild, Lemaire pulled his team back from two 3-1 series deficits. They first came back against the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference quarterfinals, effectively ending Patrick Roy’s career. They repeated the feat in the next round, defeating the Vancouver Canucks. His experience in this situation can and should be used to help the team respond.
Lemaire knows the time for speeches and talking is over.
“It’s been four speeches that we put on and there will be a fifth one,” Lemaire said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “There’s a time for speeches. You can’t look for speeches. You’ve just got to get the work done.”
2. Colin White
In 2000, the Devils had great leadership throughout the locker room. Scott Stevens was the unquestioned leader of the team, but they also had great leadership from Ken Daneyko and Scott Niedermayer. White was also on that squad. With the defense playing subpar during this series, the Devils need someone to step up and lead the blue line. While White may not be the best blueliner, he’s the senior leader of that group. White needs to step up and get the defense playing well. The defense hasn’t played well in their own zone, and White needs to be the one to hold people accountable. He should be the vocal leader of the group, reminding the defenseman to move the puck and make the smart play. He should be riding defenseman when they take dumb penalties or take a shift off. I haven’t seen anyone step up this season to be the leader of the defense. In this situation, the team needs someone to do that, and White’s been around long enough to know what the Devils expect from their defenseman. He should step up, carry the torch and lead the defense.
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!
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.