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NHL on NBC: Devils try to contain explosive Flyers in series opener

Apr 27, 2012, 10:09 PM EDT

Scott Hartnell, Danny Briere AP

The Philadelphia Flyers are good and rested after they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 22 in six games. What was projected to be a heated series between bitter rivals loaded with star talent didn’t disappoint, but the Flyers managed to come out on top with some tremendous offensive showings.

Thanks to their efforts, by the time the puck drops in Game 1 of their second round series on Sunday (3:00 pm ET, NBC), Philadelphia will have already had a week off.

By contrast, the New Jersey Devils only barely managed to defeat the Florida Panthers. The Devils did not look particularly impressive in the first round and if they thought the Panthers were tough with the man advantage, just wait until they see what Philadelphia can do.

Still, New Jersey can’t be ruled out. Although they lack the Penguins’ firepower, they do have plenty of offensive weapons and a stronger defense than Pittsburgh had. What worked against the Penguins won’t necessarily be as effective against the Devils.

Martin Brodeur will be the big X-factor in this one. With the exception of Game 3, when he was pulled, Brodeur was terrific in the first round. He still has what it takes to compete in the playoffs, even as he approaches his 40th birthday. That said, Philadelphia should present him with a much tougher challenge than Florida could offer.

At the other end of the ice, Ilya Bryzgalov still has to prove that he can lead the Flyers in the playoffs. He did much better in the first round than his 3.89 GAA and .870 save percentage imply, but it’s still fair to say that he left something to be desired. If this turns into a more defensive series, then Philadelphia will have to lean heavily on Bryzgalov and he might not be up for the task.

Game 1 Notes:

— New Jersey outscored Florida 8-3 in the first periods of their first round series. However, the Devils netted just 10 goals after the first intermission compared to the Panthers’ 14.
— Philadelphia leads the league with a stunning 30 goals in just six games. New Jersey ranks third with 18 goals in seven contests.
— Four of the Devils’ seven playoff games have been decided by just one goal and New Jersey won three of those contests. Only two of the Flyers’ six contests were decided by a single goal and they had a 1-1 record in those games.
— No team accumulated more penalty minutes in the first round than the Philadelphia Flyers. They had a total of 165 PIM compared to the Devils’ 78.

  1. lasallehockey81 - Apr 27, 2012 at 10:19 PM

    This series feels almost like a letdown compared to the 1st round Penguins series. Here’s hoping the team doesn’t feel the same way… Game 1 is really important for that reason.

  2. therealtrenches - Apr 27, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    If the flyers continue to play loose, physical, but disciplined hockey, they will sweep the Devils aside. In fact, I think anyone they face will have a tough time beating them.

  3. mojosmagic - Apr 27, 2012 at 11:56 PM

    The Flyers need to play shut down D to win and garner confidence for Bryz. The offense will take care of itself.

  4. mojosmagic - Apr 27, 2012 at 11:56 PM

    The Flyers need to play shut down D to win and garner confidence for Bryz. The offense will take care of itself.

  5. somekat - Apr 28, 2012 at 3:26 AM

    Outside of a defensive collapse, I think the Flyers take this series in 6.
    Never willing to completely count out Broduer though

  6. bigdong28 - Apr 28, 2012 at 8:28 AM

    If you watched this series you could see the Devils had some problems with the PK, especially in game 7. The only reason the Panthers tied it up was because of two late powerplay opportunities. The Flyers operated the first 4 games against the pens at 60% on the powerplay and finished the series at 52.2%. This is a much more dangerous powerplay than what the devils saw against Florida. Nick Grossman is back and the flyers are due to get back Andrej Mezaros in the middle of the 2nd round; who was their big point shot on the powerplay during the regular season. Brodeur, solid defense, and staying out of the box are going to be the keys to having a chance against a Flyer team just about to be healthy.

  7. mclovinhockey - Apr 28, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    Panthers pp is amazing. 1/4th of their goals all year were on the PP. that said the flyers score a lot when down a man and the devils give up a lot when up a man… Could be key for Philly… Def going to 7. Hard match up.

  8. villi5ed - Apr 28, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    “With the exception of Game 3, when he was pulled, Brodeur was terrific in the first round.”

    Simply not true. He was incredibly up and down throughout. There were 5 goals in the series that were dreadful. The two in Game 6 were horrid, and came at a time when his team was up. What makes him so intriguing is that he does bounce back, he has no memory, he does not get down on himself. But had the Devils lost Game 7, Brodeur’s Jekyll and Hyde act in the net would have been a huge story.

  9. frederick987 - Apr 28, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    Can’t count the Devils out just yet, they seem to play well was an underdog team. Just hoping this one is not a blood bath like the Penguin/Flyers series. Marty can be awfully stubborn when he got good D in front of him.

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