The series returns to New Jersey, where the Devils will host the Lightning in a crucial Game 5 match up.
GAMETIME: 7:00 PM, EST
Local TV: Fox Sports NY
Local Radio: 92.3 FM, FREE
The Series is Tied, 2-2NHL.com Preview
Review of Game 4: Trendon Lynch at On Fire
Breakdown of Game 4: Joe Bechtel at 2 Man Advantage
Review of Game 4: Tim Mo at RaReMaDev
In my opinion, the winner of this game will have a great chance to win the entire series in Game 6. A Lightning win means the series returns to Tampa Bay, where the Bolts can end it with the home crowd of 20,900+ screaming their heads off in rooting for the Lightning. However, a Devils win would really put the Lightning back on their heels in a chance to clinch the series for New Jersey. Needless to say, this game is crucial in terms of momentum and in terms of the series as well.
The Devils clearly did a number of things right to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in overtime 4-3. They scored first, they attacked Johan Holmqvist with more dangerous shots on net as opposed to firing directly to his chest, they exploited the Tampa Bay defense with simple but excellent passes to wide-open teammates, they took fewer penalties, and they didn't fall completely flat as Tampa Bay came back to tie up the game. Continuing how the Devils played in the second half of the third period and overtime would be wise for the Devils' sake in order to win.
The Devils, however, can improve in some regards. Before I get to that, I'm not going to criticize Martin Brodeur here: goal against #1 was off a screen that wouldn't have happened if Elias cleared the puck more effectively, goal against #2 was a tip in front by Martin St. Louis, and goal against #3 came from a wide-open (I'm looking at you Brad Lukowich), as in left uncovered, Vincent Lecavalier on Brodeur's flank. Brodeur made a lot of big saves on Wednesday, he's not the issue. That said, the Devils have to shape up in two regards:
1. Defense. Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis have made this series their own. They both played over 30 minutes in Game 4 and expect another 25+ minute night from the two of them. John Madden and Jay Pandolfo alone can't contain them. Richard Matvichuk had a big night on defense; but Brad Lukowich was less than optimal against the terrible two-some. All the same, the Devils have to keep close tabs on both of them at all times. I know that's easier said than done, but the effort must be there. At the same time, the Devils can't let up against the other Lightning players - Vaclav Prospal nor Eric Perrin should be flying around in the zone like they own it even if Lecavalier and St. Louis has. I'm just saying. Just stay strong on defense. above all don't mess with Martin Brodeur with a screen or not covering the NHL's leading goal scorer of the recent regular season when he's right by the goalie (Lukowich).
2. Power play. The Devils have ran the gamut of successful power plays, dangerous but unsuccessful power plays, and incredibly ineffective and terribly-played power plays in Game 4. I've seen the Devils cough up the puck in their own end to Lightning forecheckers and give up shorthanded shots. I've seen the Devils not cough it up, but show an inability to penetrate the zone. And I've seen the Devils actually make the most of their power play. All of this in Game 4. It is an improvement over Game 3, but I want some consistent power play efforts. Specifically consistent strong power plays that lead to goals for the Devils (and absolutely no risk of shorthanded goals).
The Devils showed in Game 4 that they can hang with the Lightning's run-and-gun style and skate as hard if not harder than the Bolts on their home ice. Now that the series is tied up, the Devils should continue the hard work they showed and used to win the in Game 4 to take Game 5. It's a new series and it's time to start it with a big win. GO DEVILS.
Clarkson, as you know, impressed me and many others when called up to the New Jersey Devils earlier this season. He's big, he's strong, he's got a nose for the net, he hustles, and he can bring the pain in multiple facets of the game. He's a power forward and he could make that fourth line a lot more usable for tonight's game or give one of the top three lines an added dimension. I think this is a good call up, indeed if it is a call up from Lowell, and I think he could definitely help out right away in Game 5 tonight. All the same, GO DEVILS.
Labels: 2007 Playoffs, Devils Game