Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 4 Preview: Flyers at Devils
Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 2
New Jersey Devils lead Philadelphia Flyers, 2-1
7:30 PM E.T.
TV: NBCSN, CBC
Radio: WFAN 660 AM
The Devils rebounded from a Game 1 overtime loss by winning Games 2 and 3 and taking a 2-1 series lead on the Flyers. Their most recent game was Thursday’s 4-3 win, courtesy of Alexei Ponikarovsky’s tally late in the first overtime. The Devils got a heroic goal and two assist performance from Ilya Kovalchuk on Thursday, which came two nights after he sat out Game 2 due to his nagging lower-body injury. Tonight, they’ll have a chance to take a 3-1 series lead and go back to Philadelphia with a chance to end the series in Game 5.
Devils outworking Flyers?
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette and goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov have both credited the Devils for outworking them in Games 2 and 3. One would expect the Flyers to come out strong in Game 4, but the Devils’ two-way play has frustrated Philly for much of this series, and they’ll look to keep that trend going. The Flyers seemed to be able to do whatever they wanted to do offensively in their series win over Pittsburgh, but the Devils have been much better defensively than the Penguins were. The Devils have tried to win the neutral zone and make the Flyers work hard to enter their offensive zone. They’ve also made it difficult for the Flyers to get out of their own zone, as the Devils’ forecheck has shined for much of the series.
The Devils’ struggles on their penalty kill was well-documented in their first round series against the Florida Panthers, but they’ve gradually gotten better in this series against the Flyers. After surrendering a power play goal early in the first period of Game 3, the Devils killed off four straight Flyers’ power plays, including two in overtime. They limited Philly to just one shot on Martin Brodeur while shorthanded during the two Philadelphia power plays in overtime. The Devils’ penalty kill is a big reason that they’re leading this series and if they continue to have success on the PK, they’ll have a good chance to win the series.
With Ilya Kovalchuk back in the lineup for Game 3, the Devils had four different goal scorers on Thursday. Patrik Elias scored his third of the playoffs and first goal since Game 3 against Florida on Thursday, and it came on the power play. Kovalchuk scored his fourth of the postseason just 20 seconds later. Zach Parise later scored his fourth of the playoffs, and then Ponikarovsky nothced his first goal of the playoffs, but he picked a good time to score it, as it came as the overtime winner. After getting some offensive production out of ‘role players’ in Game 2, such as defensemen Adam Larsson and Bryce Salvador, the Devils’ top two lines produced all of the offense in Game 3.
There’s a new face in town:
The Devils revealed this morning that Ryan Carter will miss Game 4 with an apparent injury. He had played every game this postseason to date, and had chipped in with a goal and two assists in ten playoff games this year. Peter Harrold remains scratched, so Tim Sestito will likely make his NHL playoff debut tonight. Tim, the brother of Flyers forward Tom Sestito, had no points in 18 regular season games with the Devils this season, but did have 9 goals and 10 assists in 45 AHL games this season in Albany. He’ll take Carter’s place, alongside Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier.
Happy birthday to a pair of Devils goaltenders:
Yesterday was Johan Hedberg’s 39th birthday. Today, the Devils celebrate another birthday, as Martin Brodeur turns 40 years old. The team’s best birthday present for him would be to win and take a 3-1 series lead after tonight. Happy birthday to both of them!
Latest injury buzz from Philly:
While the Devils have been battling through some injuries in this series, the Flyers have also been dealing with some injuries. First of all, Scott Hartnell was said to be a bit banged up earlier in the series, but he’ll play with his usual linemates tonight (Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr). Defenseman Andrej Meszaros has been practicing with the team this weekend, but it doesn’t appear that he’ll return to the Flyers’ lineup for Game 4. Rookie center Sean Couturier, who injured himself after getting tangled up with David Clarkson in Game 3, is a game-time decision, but all signs point to Couturier in the lineup and Zac Rinaldo will remain scratched.
Devils’ projected lineup:
Parise – Elias – Clarkson
Ponikarovsky – Zajac – Kovalchuk
Sykora – Henrique – Zubrus
Sestito – Gionta – Bernier
Greene – Fayne
Salvador – Zidlicky
Volchenkov – Larsson
Flyers’ projected lineup:
Hartnell – Giroux – Jagr
Schenn – Briere – Simmonds
Read – van Riemsdyk – Voracek
Talbot – Couturier – Wellwood
Timonen – Carle
Coburn – Grossmann
Lilja – Bourdon
Posted on May 6, 2012, in Game Preview, New Jersey Devils and tagged New Jersey Devils, NHL, Philadelphia Flyers, Prudential Center, Stanley Cup Playoffs, The Rock. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.