Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 5 Preview: Devils at Flyers
Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 2
New Jersey Devils lead Philadelphia Flyers, 3-1
7:30 PM E.T.
TV: NBCSN, CBC
Radio: Bloomberg 1130 AM
As the series shifts back to Philadelphia for Game 5, the Devils have a chance to make tonight the final night of the Flyers’ season and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals in the process, a place they haven’t been since the 2003 playoffs. But the next round is still the next round, and the Devils have one more game to win before thinking about the future. There’s a bit of news to get to regarding the two teams and their lineups as well.
Carter is back:
No, the Flyers didn’t get Jeff Carter back from the Kings. Ryan Carter will re-join the Devils lineup after battling an illness during Game 4. He’ll replace Tim Sestito and play alongside his usual linemates, Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier. Carter scored a goal in Game 1 against Florida, and has added two assists since then. Other than that, it seems that the Devils lineup will remain the same. Adam Larsson will play in his fourth straight playoff game after sitting out the first eight, which means Peter Harrold will once again be a healthy scratch.
Claude, the suspension Giroux?
After hitting Dainius Zubrus shoulder-to-head at the end of the second period of Game 4, Flyers star forward Claude Giroux has been suspended by Brendan Shanahan and the NHL’s department of player safety for Game 5. They ruled that the hit was late and that Giroux recklessly targeted Zubrus’ head. The suspension was kept to one game because Zubrus was apparently not injured and Giroux does not have a history of anything considered to be a “dirty hit.” Replacing Giroux will be Zac Rinaldo, who had 9 points and 232 penalty minutes in the regular season. His 46 penalty minutes from round one against Pittsburgh lead the NHL this postseason.
Speaking of Zubrus:
Zubrus getting hit in the head by Giroux sandwiched a pair of goals that he scored in Game 4. Late in the second period, a period that featured Ilya Bryzgalov keeping the Flyers alive after the Devils dominated most of the game, Adam Henrique took the puck away from a Flyer, and then centered to the slot, where Zubrus was breaking, and he buried it for his second goal of the playoffs to make it 3-2 Devils. That held as the game-winning goal. Inside of one minute remaining in the third period, Zubrus’ empty-net goal iced the game and clinched a 4-2 win for the Devils. Zubrus had no goals and three assists previously since his goal in Game 1 against Florida.
The 40 years old, still getting it done:
Martin Brodeur turned 40 years old on Sunday, the day of Game 4, and he got his 106th career playoff win in his 181st consecutive playoff start. Brodeur didn’t face too many shots in Game 4, as the Devils outshot the Flyers by nearly a 2-1 ratio, and he allowed two goals in the first period, as Philly struck on their power play and shorthanded, but he finished with 20 saves on 22 shots, and he picked up an assist on the second Zubrus goal. The assist was his third of the 2012 playoffs. That’s a pretty nice 40th birthday!
Keep up the forecheck:
Much of the Devils’ success in this series so far is their aggressive forechecking. They’ve frustrated the Flyers, who like to dominate puck possession themselves, by playing in the Philly end for more time than the Flyers want. The Devils have used their forecheck to their advantage, and they’ve worn down the Flyers’ defense and created much of their offense that way. That’s the best way for them to contain the Flyers’ offense, as well, says Pete DeBoer. If the Devils continue to frustrate the Flyers and force them into playing in their own end as they have over their past three wins, the Devils will have a great chance to advance to the next round tonight.
The Devils can expect desperation from the Flyers tonight, as their season is on the line, but they’d sure like to knock the Flyers out while they’re already down. The Flyers have the ability to come back from large deficits in series, as they overcame a 3-0 series deficit to the Boston Bruins in 2010 en route to winning the Eastern Conference. The fans also remember letting a 3-1 series lead against the Devils slip away in 2000, and the Devils went on to win the Stanley Cup. Numbers are on the Devils’ side, though, as they look to clinch the series tonight. The Devils are 6-3 in Game 5s when they’ve held a 3-1 series lead in their history.
Devils’ projected lineup:
Parise – Elias – Clarkson
Ponikarovsky – Zajac – Kovalchuk
Sykora – Henrique – Zubrus
Carter – Gionta – Bernier
Greene – Fayne
Salvador – Zidlicky
Volchenkov – Larsson
Flyers’ projected lineup (my speculation):
Hartnell – Briere – Jagr
Schenn – van Riemsdyk – Simmonds
Read – Couturier – Voracek
Talbot – Rinaldo – Wellwood
Timonen – Carle
Coburn – Grossmann
Meszaros – Bourdon