Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 3 Preview: Flyers at Devils

2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 2, New Jersey Devils vs Philadelphia Flyers

Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 2
New Jersey Devils tied 1-1 with Philadelphia Flyers
7:30 PM E.T.
TV: NBCSN, CBC
Radio: WFAN 660 AM

After dropping Game 1 of their second round matchup against the Flyers, the Devils rebounded in a huge way, beating the Flyers, 4-1, en route to tying the series, 1-1.  The Devils used a dramatic four-goal outburst in the third period of Game 2 to rally back from an early 1-0 deficit.  Rookie defenseman Adam Larsson made his playoff debut count in a big way, as he scored the Devils’ first goal that sparked the offensive explosion.  The Devils outshot, out-hit, out-worked and out-played the “offensively dynamic” Flyers for almost the entire game, and they were rewarded by splitting the first two games in Philadelphia.

Good starts, bad finishes?

In Game 1, the Devils dominated the first period and took a 1-0 lead, but were then outplayed by the Flyers in the second half of the game.  In Game 2, the roles were reversed.  The Flyers played a strong first period, but it was the Devils who took over after that.  If you look back at the Florida series, the team that started hot didn’t have much success, and the Flyers came back to win several games against Pittsburgh, so what does that say about getting off to a good start?  The Devils would certainly like to get off to a good start in Game 3, but if they do, it will be important to sustain a high level of play throughout the game, and if they have a lead, they’ll need to find a way to protect it better.

A first impression:

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and Adam Larsson didn’t disappoint in his first NHL playoff game.  Sure, he scored the game-tying goal in the third period, but he’ll have to play a solid two-way game if he wants to stay in the lineup beyond Game 2.  Larsson held his own defensively, and he didn’t shy away from the physical game, which is important, considering his confidence appeared shaken after Montreal’s P.K. Subban hit him hard earlier in the season.  Adam’s composure was on display all night, and he was willing to shoot pucks at the net.  Of course, he’ll always remember the game because of the goal, which came on a very smart pinch in the offensive zone, as he saw an opportunity to take a pass from Dainius Zubrus.  He waited patiently until he saw the shot he wanted, and he beat Ilya Bryzgalov glove-side.

Seriously, can the Devils actually duplicate their 2nd and 3rd periods from Game 2 again?

After a first period in which the Flyers outplayed (but not outshot) the Devils, the visitors outplayed the Flyers for the final 40 minutes.  The Devils played as a five-man unit almost constantly.  Their defensemen pinched in frequently and aggressively, but were always backed up by forwards and in the event that the Flyers broke out with an odd-man rush, a Devils forward was quick to backcheck and take away the Flyers’ scoring chance.  Martin Brodeur stopped 19 shots, and it wasn’t because he didn’t play well.  The Devils shut down a brilliant offense and made the Flyers chase them all game long.  In the end, the Devils were the team that put on most of the offensive pressure.  The Flyers got a strong goaltending performance from Ilya Bryzgalov, but it wasn’t enough to hold off a relentless Devils attack.  If the Devils can duplicate their effort from Game 2, they’ll have a great chance to win Game 3.

Will Kovalchuk play?

The Devils decided to rest injured winger Ilya Kovalchuk, as he sat out Game 2 with an apparent lower-body injury (believed to be a back issue).  The Devils rallied together and played a strong team game in Kovalchuk’s absence.  With the win, they take the pressure off Kovy to avoid rushing him back into the lineup.  Kovalchuk will be a game-time decision, as to whether he plays or not, but he believes he is ready to get back in the lineup.  For Peter DeBoer, though, there is no pressure to play him.  If the Devils had fallen behind in the series by two games, Kovalchuk might have been rushed into the lineup before he could properly heal.

Devils’ projected lineup (as they practiced):

Parise – Elias – Clarkson

Ponikarovsky – Zajac – Zubrus

Sykora – Henrique – Bernier

Carter – Gionta – Kovalchuk

Greene – Fayne

Salvador – Zidlicky

Volchenkov – Larsson

Brodeur

Hedberg

Flyers’ projected lineup:

Hartnell – Giroux – Jagr

Schenn – Briere – Simmonds

Read – van Riemsdyk – Voracek

Talbot – Couturier – Wellwood

Timonen – Carle

Coburn – Grossmann

Lilja – Bourdon

Bryzgalov

Bobrovsky

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Posted on May 3, 2012, in Game Preview, New Jersey Devils and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. SWARM IT UP!

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