Everybody knew there was no way the Flyers could carry over the
frenetic pace from last season’s first-round playoff series against the
Pittsburgh Penguins into round two. Sure enough, that energy would only last
for all of one more game.
The Orange & Black would go on to take a 1-0 series lead
via an overtime thriller before the New Jersey Devils went about their usual
business of smothering the life out of an opponent. Philadelphia had averaged
nearly five goals during its first seven postseason games, but was held to less
than two per over their next – and final – four.
Just like that, the Flyers were eliminated from the
postseason in what was the equivalent of an elongated sweep. The Devils went
all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Tonight they’ll hold a ceremony and raise another banner in
Newark before hosting the winless Flyers, with an offense still searching to
regain its form after Marty Brodeur and company drained the team of its
vitality. So far this season they have just the three goals in two games,
although the refs have played a part in some of the frustration.
Back in May, the officials didn’t have a damn thing to do
with it. The Devils simply had all the answers. Where the Flyers won most of
the battles for the puck versus Pittsburgh, New Jersey was able to turn the
tables on them. And Brodeur had a magnificent series, not only in net, but also
behind, expertly playing every puck to his teammates that Philly wanted to dump
The Devils wore them down at the other end as well, taking
advantage of head coach Peter Laviolette’s aggressive system. Ilya Bryzgalov
could not have been 100% in net either, having sustained a stress fracture in
his foot. New Jersey posted at least three tallies to the scoreboard in all
It was a thorough beating, one that does not necessarily
give hope that the Flyers can pick up their first points of the season tonight.
Having said that, Jersey is certainly going through a
transition after losing Zach Parise in free agency. That’s 31 goals and 38
assists subtracted from the lineup, not to mention a league-leading eight goals
in the postseason this past summer, and Adam Henrique’s 16 and 35 are currently
missing as well due to a thumb injury.
Then again, the more things change in Newark, the more they
stay the same. The Devils are still capable of stifling opponents the way they
did to Philly in that series last season, and if the 40-year-old Brodeur is
rusty at all following the lockout, it didn’t show in his first game back.
Marty limited the New York Islanders to one goal in a 2-1 victory.
The Flyers did have some success against their rivals last
year however prior to the playoffs, in particular Bryz, who was 3-0 in starts
against New Jersey last season, only allowing one goal in the process. He’s
looked sharp in the earlygoings this year despite the losing, so we’ll see if he can keep
the momentum going.
Game starts at 7:30 due to pre-game ceremonies. Is it too early to say the Flyers need a win tonight given the shortened season?
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