Game 70 Recap: Surging Devils come to complete stop in Philly
(headline by @kmart890)
Three stars of the game:
3rd star – Eric Wellwood (0 points – Flyers)
2nd star – Jakub Voracek (1 goal, 1 assist – Flyers)
1st star – Ilya Bryzgalov (17 save shutout – Flyers)
Prior to the Devils’ latest four-game winning streak, the Islanders shut the Devils out in a game that didn’t feature many good scoring chances. Well, Tuesday’s game against the Flyers followed a similar script. Ilya Bryzgalov had a pretty easy 17-save shutout and the Flyers cruised past the Devils, 3-0. The Devils, who had a decent first period, were outplayed for most of the night, and simply didn’t do much of anything offensively. The Flyers’ collapsing (trap) defense shut down everything the Devils tried in this game, and the Devils had no answer for them after beating the same Flyers team, 4-1 in New Jersey on Sunday night.
The Devils didn’t get off to a terrible start in this game, but they just couldn’t get anything going offensively. They had struggled against Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov coming into this game, as Bryzgalov beat the Devils twice in New Jersey earlier in the season, including a 3-0 shutout on Opening Night. In the first period, the Devils actually outshot Philadelphia, 8-7, but the Flyers had the better scoring chances, and neither team scored. David Clarkson had a good opening period, as he had four of the Devils’ eight shots on Bryzgalov. The Devils wasted a pair of power plays in the first period. They had chances on their first, but were sloppy on the second power play.
This tweet pretty much sums up the first period:
@Liv133: The Flyers came too close for comfort and we didn’t get close enough to scoring. Gotta clean up both ends.
Things started to fall apart for the Devils in the second period. The Flyers frustrated the Devils with their puck control, defensive play and edgy physically play. Martin Brodeur was able to keep the Devils bending, and not breaking, until about the halfway point of the second period. That’s about when Flyers rookie Sean Couturier gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead. The puck was loose in the crease, and Brodeur tried to lay on top of it, but he couldn’t, and Couturier popped home an easy rebound. The Devils never threatened Bryzgalov after that point. Ilya Kovalchuk and Couturier exchanged slashes after the goal, and Kovalchuk was the only player penalized. The officiating was questionable all night. Philly outshot the Devils, 13-6 in the middle period.
Your second period summary:
@tomheaney1: Sluggish, they need to challenge [Bryzgalov] with better quality shots.
Third periods suddenly became a strength for the Devils, despite it being a weakness earlier in the season. Even during the 1-0 loss to the Islanders on March 4th, the Devils played well in the third period. They played excellent third periods against the Rangers, twice more against the Islanders and Sunday night in the win over the Flyers, but tonight, they couldn’t break the Flyers’ defensive trap and they couldn’t stop the Flyers offensively. The Devils turned the puck over and played a very sloppy game overall. Despite the Devils trailing, it was the Flyers who had 75% of the third period shots: 9 out of 12 combined shots on goal. Just 2:14 into the third period, Jakub Voracek doubled the Flyers’ lead on a rebound.
Halfway through the third period, the Devils got their chance to get back in the game. Philly’s Nicklas Grossmann carelessly hi-sticked Adam Henrique (he had hi-sticked Zach Parise in the first period as well). Henrique appeared shaken up on the play, as Grossmann’s stick caught his eye. The Devils were awarded a four-minute power play (Henrique was a part of it), but generated just one shot on Bryzgalov, which was a slapshot from Ilya Kovalchuk at the point. In other words, the Devils did absolutely nothing on their chance. They forced bad passes, couldn’t get set up in the offensive zone and most of all, couldn’t get anything on net. The power play was a microcosm of their lackluster effort all night. The Devils would have gotten another power play later, but Eric Boulton nullified Scott Hartnell’s second run at Martin Brodeur for goalie interference of the night by taking an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
During that sequence, in which the teams skated 4-on-4, Pete DeBoer pulled Martin Brodeur, which came with about five minutes to go in regulation. The move, in theory, gave the Devils a 5-on-4 opportunity, which was as good as a power play, but it failed, as Danny Briere snapped a long goal-less streak of his own, and buried the empty net goal and gave the Flyers a 3-0 lead, which would hold as the final score.
Perhaps one stat summarizes this game: the Devils were credited with ten giveaways in this game. That’s usually a questionable stat, as it’s up to the official scorer to determine what is and isn’t a giveaway, but that’s a good indication of how the game developed. The Devils were extremely sloppy breaking out of their defensive zone, they weren’t good in the neutral zone and were just as sloppy on the rare occasion that they got set up in the offensive zone. My personal opinion is that the loss itself isn’t really a big deal. They had won four straight games, all against tough Eastern Conference teams, and the schedule has been pretty brutal recently, but the Devils didn’t really put forth much of an effort in this game. Bryzgalov has been playing out of his mind recently, and it required a much better effort to score on him than what the Devils put together on Tuesday night.
Game notes: Ilya Bryzgalov simply dominated the Devils this season. It started with a 20-save shutout on Opening Night, followed by a Flyers’ 4-1 win in New Jersey, when Bryzgalov stopped 30 of 31 shots against. He stopped all eight shots he faced in relief of Sergei Bobrovsky in the Devils’ 6-4 win on January 21st and stopped all 17 shots sent his way on Tuesday. That means Bryzgalov went 3-0-0 against the Devils this season, had a goals against average of 0.29 and save percentage of .987 (75 saves on 76 shots). The other Ilya, Kovalchuk that is, saw his four-game point streak snapped in the loss. The NHL’s second star of the week has 5 goals and 4 assists during the four-game winning streak. Zach Parise and David Clarkson also had points in each of the four games during the winning streak. Marek Zidlicky came into Tuesday with five points in his last three games. Obviously, in the shutout loss, all of those scoring streaks come to an end. Martin Brodeur remains at 650 regular season wins.