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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers-Devils, Game 2

In Philadelphia Flyers on May 2, 2012 at 10:19 pm

In this addition of the “View from the Philly Pressbox” we take a look at Game 2 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 these keys and how they affected the outcome of the game.

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: The Flyers started out with a decent 1st period, recording 9 shots and finishing with a 1-0 lead. That was short lived though. They managed only 2 shots in the 2nd period and 9 in the 3rd for a game total of 20. As we stated above, 15-20 shots on goal against Brodeur will allow him to steal the game and the series. The Flyers played in to the Devils trap by playing their worst game of the playoffs. The Flyers appeared to be very fast coming out of the locker room and taking their quick 1-0 lead, at 2:53 on a goal by Matt Read with assists to Brayden Shenn and Wayne Simmonds. They continued to generate in the offensive zone but ended up dumping and chasing and not getting many shots on goal. The expectation is that the Flyers will make the necessary adjustments to bounce back in Game 3 and get back to peppering Brodeur.

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, like Game 1, was not a very physical contest. There have been no injuries reported, so the Flyers remain at nearly full strength and Andreas Mesazaros gets closer to returning if needed.

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: The Flyers were 0-5 on the power play and are now 1-11 for the series. In Game 1 the Flyers continually put pressure on the Devils and continued to shoot the puck. In Game 2, that did not happen. The two penalty units of Giroux, Hartnell, Jagr, Voracek, Briere, Simmonds and JVR were utilized fairly equally along with Timonen and Carle but no one could get much generated.

Defensively, the Flyers did a decent job of staying out of the penalty box. They were penalized for four penalties not including some last minute, meaningless calls. Our analysis said they couldn’t be in the box more than 3 times and they were in the box 4 times but did not allow any power play goals. The Devils are now 1-7 on the power play. Kovalchuk missed the game with an injury and will have to be watched closely when he returns. The penalty kill again was lead by Coburn and Max Talbot.

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:  In Game 2, the Flyers got full team participation in a bad effort! Briere and JVR were both -3 and Carle -2 for the game. If there was anyone that appeared to skate fast throughout the game, until the end it was Eric Wellwood. He continues to get better every game. Even the dependable Giroux, Hartnell and Briere seemed to be missing in action for most of the game.

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: Bryzgalov looked at his playoff best through most of the game until the defensive breakdowns and turnovers finally caught up to him. The Devils fired 25 shots in the first two periods and Bryz stopped them all to keep his team in the game. They added 10 more in the 3rd period, scoring three times and adding an empty net goal.  The real bright spot for Bryz was his movement in the goal. He was the best he’s been all season and the results were there for a good portion of the game until he could longer survive the breakdowns.

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 missed on the keys and it cost them the game. This was clearly their worst game of the playoffs. Yes, worse than the 10-3 beating they got from the Penguins. The two areas that remain critical are shooting the puck on Brodeur and getting the power play cranked back up. The Flyers have more talent throughout their roster; however, they cannot fall in to the trap of the Devils system. We expect this to be the wakeup call that they needed.

Our prediction hasn’t changed Flyers in 5 games!!!

 

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

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  1. I think the Devils should be very happy where they are. A chance to win Game 1 and a solid performance in Game 2. The Flyers will need to win this series 5 on 5. The Devils penalty killing this season was the best in the league, but bad against Florida. I knew that would not continue and it hasn’t. The Flyers have had great success in past years in the playoff games at New Jersey. If my memory is correct they have won at least 2 out of every 3 games they have played there. If that continues, they’ll win this series.

    • Kevin, Agree on the 5-5 but the Flyers need to help themselves aome. 1-11 won’t cut it. Can’t expect them to be 50% like Round 1 but can’t be 10% either. I expect a good game tonight and the Flyers will win in a tight one.

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