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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers – Devils, Game 1

In Philadelphia Flyers on April 30, 2012 at 6:47 pm

In this addition of the “View from the Philly Pressbox” we take a look at Game 1 of the Round 2 matchup between the Flyers and the New Jersey Devils in the “Chase for Lord Stanley’s Cup”. In our preview we identified our keys to the series. We will review and analyze them and see if meeting these keys brought victory to the Flyers.

Following are the keys for the Flyers to win this series:

  • ·        Shoot the puck at Martin Brodeur, minimum 28 shots per game.
  • ·        Stay Healthy
  • ·        Special Teams
  • ·        Full team participation
  • ·        Ilya Bryzgalov

Shoot the puck at Martin Brodeur, minimum 28 shots per game – We were going to break this key point in to three separate points. The Flyers must shoot the puck at the future Hall of Famer, Brodeur. They cannot afford in get in to tight checking, close games with 15-20 shots per game or Brodeur can steal the series. The Devils have been very successful playing this style of hockey for years. The Flyers need to control the pace of the game by working end-to-end and getting the lead early in the games forcing the Devils out of their system. If the Flyers fall behind in the series as they did in Round 1, and throughout most of the season, they could find themselves in trouble. Get out of “the room” quick, and at full speed, and the Flyers will be in control.

Result: It didn’t look very good coming out of the locker room. The Flyers were flat, and the Devils were the team doing the peppering. The Flyers were outshot 15-6 in the 1st period. It looked like the heavy footed Flyers were falling in to the Devils trap. Ilya Bryzgalov held them in the game through the period and the Flyers trailed only 1-0. For the next two periods and overtime the Flyers dominated the game. They finished with 36 shots on Brodeur. Once they started peppering him he had problems, although, if not for several fantastic saves, the Flyers would’ve won big. We’ll give the Flyers the benefit of the doubt on the slow start in Game 1 as rust. We don’t expect to see the same in Game 2.

Stay Healthy – Just like the Pittsburgh series, this is expected to be very physical. The difference is that you won’t see the lack of discipline that you saw from the Penguins. The Flyers will be getting a healthy Nick Grossman back for Game 1. This will allow Peter Laviolette to spread the minutes among more defensemen, lightening the ice time of Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle and Kimmo Timonen. Each of these guys played a ton of minutes in the first series. James van Riemsdyk should continue to see more ice time as he gets his legs back under him playing in the last two games of the Pittsburgh series.

Another key addition to the Flyers lineup could be defenseman Andrej Mesazaros. There’s an outside chance that Mesazaros could play later in the series.

Result: This game was nowhere near as physical as any of the games in the Pittsburgh series. Both teams played disciplined hockey with no “dirty” penalties. Nick Grossman was back at full strength and played a solid game on the blue line logging 16:26 of ice time. Having Grossman back allowed Laviolette to spread the ice time on defense as we expected. Coburn logged the most time with 26:27 seconds and Andraes Lilja the least with 15:18 seconds. This is good balance among the six defenders that will help as the series continue on.

JVR was back with a vengeance. He was named the games second star but could’ve been the first. He logged 17:31 seconds of ice time, scored a goal, had a team high 5 shots and posted a +3 for the game. The return of JVR just adds to the depth and talent that the Flyers possess.

Mesazaros did not play in the gain but appears to be very close to being ready to return.

Special Teams – The Flyers special team work in Round 1 was devastating. They scored on 11 of 23 power play opportunities, a staggering 47.8%. They also added 3 shorthanded goals. The Penguins had no idea how to defense the Flyers special teams. We don’t expect them to maintain that pace against the Devils; however, we do expect them to be good again in Round 2. The Flyers have so many weapons, regardless of which group is on the ice, they will pressure the Devils throughout the series. The Devils scored 15 shorthanded goals during the regular season, while the Flyers had 6, so the Flyers cannot be reckless.

On defense, the Flyers must stay disciplined and out of the penalty box. The Devils have goal scorers. Ilya Kovalchuk led the Devils with 10 power play goals during the regular season, while David Clarkson and Patrik Elias added 8 each. Zach Parisi added 7. If the Flyers are shorthanded more than 3 times a game they will allow the Devils to stay in the series.

Result: Although the Flyers converted on just 1 of 6 chances, a goal by Giroux from Timonen and Hartnell to give them a 3-2 lead. They put constant pressure on the Devils and Brodeur and gained steam as the game went on.

Defensively, the Flyers did a great job of playing disciplined hockey and staying out of the penalty box. Our analysis said they couldn’t be in the box more than 3 times and they were in the box 3 times. They did give up a power play goal to Travis Zajac in the 2nd period on a very questionable hooking call on Carle. For the final 31:24 seconds of the game the Flyers were at full strength. An interesting statistic for the Flyers penalty kill is that the forwards that logged the most ice time were rookies Sean Couturier and Matt Read, both with 2:29 seconds.

Full Team Participation – The Flyers had 13 different players score goals in the Pittsburgh series. They were led by Claude Giroux with 6 and Danny Briere with 5. They also had 15 players on the score sheet with assists. Giroux led the way with 8, Jaromir Jagr added 6 and Jakub Voracek added 5. What these numbers indicate is contributions from every member of the team, regardless of the line they were playing on or what defensive pairing they were in. Only Eric Wellwood and Andres Lilja played in all six games and didn’t get credited with a point, however, both provided significant contributors.

Result:  Again, the Flyers got total team participation. Lavey mixed his lines so often it was hard to tell who was on the ice but they were all there. Briere scored two goals, Giroux one and JVR one. Jakob Voracek added two assists while Gustaffson, Timonen, Hartnell, and Carle added one each. There were major contributions from nearly everyone. Brayden Shenn saw the least ice time with only 9:44. Jagr was the one Flyer that seemed to struggle getting his legs and he saw less action later in the game as a result. Also playing a high speed outstanding game was the rookie Wellwood. He looked like the fastest man on the ice.

Ilya Bryzgalov –  Bryzgalov is not as bad as he looked at times in the Pittsburgh series. When the Flyers tightened their game Bryz played well. The Flyers are good enough on offense that Bryz doesn’t have to be tremendous every night; he just needs to be good. The Flyers won’t face an offensive team like the Penguins again in the East and Bryz’s game will improve accordingly. What the Flyers cannot afford is a meltdown by Bryz. If the Flyers will play tight, solid defense from the start of this series Bryz will play well.

Result: As the clock was rolling down below 10 minutes it looked like Bryz play in the 1st period was going to steal the game for the Flyers and then it happened, a soft goal that will lose your team the Stanley Cup. After the 1st period the Flyers played “lock-down” defense again, allowing only 11 shot on goal in the final 44:36 seconds of the game. Bryz just needed to make the saves he should make and he didn’t. Should the Flyers be concerned? The Flyers must continue their outstanding defensive work and keep the pressure off of Bryz until he gains confidence. He looked lost at times and that won’t win the cup. Bryz continues to be a work in progress.  

Prediction – If the Flyers accomplish these keys, especially continuing to pepper the 40 year old Brodeur with pucks, they’ll win the series in 5 games. If they allow the Devils to dictate the pace they could lose this series. We don’t expect that to happen. The Flyers have too many weapons, too much depth. They can match up Sean Couturier against Kovalchuk as they did against Evgeni Malkin. Couts showed he’s up to the challenge. Max Talbot brings stability any time he’s on the ice, regardless if he’s playing with the veterans or the rookies. The Giroux, Jagr, Scott Hartnell line will be solid. The Briere, Voracek, Wayne Simmonds line will also be good. Briere continues to up his game in the playoffs, as he always does. Rookies Brayden Shenn, Matt Read and Wellwood passed their first playoff tests with big contributions. As we stated earlier a healthy JVR is an advantage for the Flyers. Defensively, Coburn, Carle, Timonen, Lilja, Grossman and rookie Eric Gustaffson are solid. Gustaffson was a star in Game 6. Add Pavel Kubina for depth and the defense is solid.

As a result the Flyers are too strong and will win the series in 5 games!!!

Result: We hit the keys to the game right on the nose. The Flyers spotted the Devils a period and they could only come away with a 1-0 lead before the Flyers took over. Kovalchuk was a non factor due to Couturier but also due to, what appeared to be laziness. There’s no time for that if you’re a Devil. The Flyers need to continue to pepper Brodeur and play solid special teams. Our prediction hasn’t changed Flyers in 5 games!!!

“GOOD NIGHT and GOOD HOCKEY”…….Gene Hart

 

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