Martin Brodeur stopped them all for what I believe his 22nd shutout in his playoff career. Obviously he played big and provided a boost for the Devils on his own. The Devils were solid in their own end, making sure the Lightning did not get many rebounds and coming up big at times when the Lightning looked particularly dangerous. Just as importantly, the Devils scored first, they capitalized on what few offensive chances they did get.
While the Devils played a solid game, they were heavily out-shot. Just from what I saw in the third period, I felt that if the Devils put many more of their shots on net, it would not be so lopsided. The Devils, I think, were not outplayed; they just missed many shots and with 10 minutes left to play, the Devils reverted to a ultra-defensive style and settled for clears. In my opinion, the Devils really should have kept pressing the Lightning on offense as opposed to simply dumping it in. During their terrible fourth power play of the night, the Devils surrendered the puck to Vincent Lecavalier who hit the post. If Lecavalier had scored, the Lightning would have been the ones making NJ play for their reserved style. But he didn't, so it didn't cost the Devils here. I just think sitting back and just trying to defend against Tampa Bay is not a good idea if only because we have seen the Lightning score two goals quite quickly in this series before.
All the same, what the Devils did clearly worked tonight and all that would need improving is the power play and their shot accuracy from what I saw. Good on the Devils for their efforts and now they can clinch the series and move on in the playoffs on Sunday. Game 6 certainly won't be easy; expect Tampa Bay head coach John Tortorella to get his team extra-motivated for that one.
As a related aside, I would like to say that if you want a reason why fighting should be curbed from the sport of hockey, the end of tonight's game provides a good reason. The Devils clinch the win with an empty net goal so what does Tampa Bay do? What does Mr. Safe Is Death, John Tortorella decide now that his team is down 3-0 late in the third period? Put Brad Richards out there with Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis and let them bring massive offense? Does he put out the checking line and just end the game? Of course not, you put out the tough guys to salvage some "pride." Andre Roy and Nolan Pratt fought and in the latter case I imagine if Pratt gave more effort on defense as he does in his fighting, he'd be more than just a depth defenseman. The fights served no purpose and even if the Lightning players did win, they didn't win anything of actual value - the Lightning lost Game 5 and are down 3-2 in the series. Again, just stupid and unnecessary; and it shows that the Lightning are not committed to winning as they should be.
Meaning that I'm now really
looking forward to a Devils win in Game 6, should it happen.
Labels: 2007 Playoffs, Devils Postgame