Friday, December 08, 2006
Postgame: Devils 2 - Flyers 0
Well, the Devils started off strong against the Flyers. Jamie Langenbrunner puts home a rebound over Antero Niittymaki on the power play early in the first period to put the Devils up 1-0, and in the third period, Brian Gionta stashes home a loose puck off a deflected Brian Rafalski shot (deflected by Scott Gomez) for the second goal. Niittymaki did play well, Martin Brodeur has played excellently as well - earning a shutout. The shutout is Brodeur's 84th of his career, tying him with Glenn Hall for the third most shutouts by a goaltender. The win is Brodeur's 432nd, putting him up one over Ed Belfour (who is still playing) in the all-time regular season wins list. In general, the defense played well, the offense was strong despite being outshout in the third period (game ended with Flyers leading in shots 28-24, not too bad), the Devils were dominant on faceoffs, and - of course - they won the game 2-0.
4 of those 6 (the last one was a roughing call on Mike Rupp at the very end of the game) were avoidable calls. I can sit here and say the refereeing was very ticky-tacky; but the Devils do not usually take this many penalties in a game. They are regularly among the least penalized teams in the NHL, before and after the lockout. Right now, they have been shorthanded 92 times (not including tonight) so far this season. Tampa Bay is right above them in that stat with 124. Discipline is a very big part of the Devils philosophy and it makes sense. Playing "smashmouth" or undisciplined hockey tells the other team, "Just chill, we're going to gift wrap some man advantages for you so you can take advantage of us when we screw up." So tonight's performance with respect to team discipline is surprising - and not in a good way. Philly came into tonight's game with a 15% power play efficiency (22nd best in the NHL); thank goodness this didn't occur against, say, Montreal, who has a more potent powerplay with a 20.9% efficiency. On the other hand, because the Devils do not normally play this way, I suppose it wouldn't do much good to worry too much about discipline. I'm sure head coach Claude Julien knows the number of times the Devils were shorthanded and will let them know about it in tomorrow's practice.
The Devils go to Boston tomorrow to take on the Boston Bruins. Maybe we'll see Scott Clemmensen get a start? Brodeur started his 20th straight game, he's certainly earned the right for a night off. It's been about a month and a half since Clemmensen's last start (October 19, 2006 - a 4-3 shootout loss to Nashville at NJ), I'd say now is a good time to give him some minutes.
ONE MORE THING: I forgot to mention that Martin Brodeur made a RIDICULOUS save in the second period. I mean, he totally robbed a sure goal from Philadelphia. I hope someone puts up a video of it on something like YouTube, it's potential Save of the Year candidate. Assuming there is such an award. I'll keep an eye out for it, but if you find it, let me know!
OK, ANOTHER ONE MORE THING: During the game, Doc and Chico noted that (TV announcers during the game) Flyers center Peter Forsberg apparently gave a press conference at the game. Apparently, he has tried a number of methods (e.g. a special boot for his skates) and he still can't turn his ankles. He seems to be out indefinitely and he apologized that he doesn't know when he'll be healthy. I sympathize with Forsberg. Yes, I don't like the Flyers; but this is sad. Forsberg is a world-class center and his wonderful play has always been limited by injuries. I really hope he does get healthy and play before the season is up.
Labels: Devils Postgame
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