The New Jersey Devils' first game of the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs will take place Thursday night by hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning. This is game 1 of a 7 game series.GAMETIME
: 7:30 PM EST
Local TV: Fox Sports NY
Local Radio: 770 AM, WABC
Devils Record Vs. Tampa Bay This Season: 1-2-1
Series Previews:NHL.com Series PreviewPreview at New Jersey Devils' official website.
Devils Due has two preview round-ups: Part 1
and Part 2
(that would be the blog you're currently reading): Offense
2 Man Advantage: The Calm Before the Storm
On Fire: Reviewing the Previews (links and thoughts on mainstream media predictions)
Beast of the East: Series Preview
Now, I'm not going to go into depth for every game at this point. We've seen Tampa Bay before in 4 games this season. Much ado has been made about the series with previews, predictions, and other analyses. I think it's apparent that this is a team that is strong on defense and in net taking on a team that is strong on offense.
It is also blindingly obvious that this first game is crucial for both teams. As I mentioned in my review of each team's offenses; the Devils have a brilliant record when they score first and when they out-shoot their opponents. Considering that Tampa Bay will likely start Johan Holmqvist, the Devils should take every opportunity to put a lot of rubber on net. Even if the shots make Holmqvist look like Dominik Hasek circa 1998 or Martin Brodeur circa, well, now, they will eventually go in if enough pucks are put on net. Momentum is absolutely vital in the playoffs and scoring first on your home ice, where you have the fan support and the last line change, is a great way to get some early. Not that the Lightning won't battle back, but it's easier to protect a lead than to mount and complete a comeback in the playoffs. The Devils worked hard to secure the home ice advantage this season, and like their power plays, they should attempt to take full advantage of it. Hopefully it will be unlike their power plays and actually take full advantage.
The Devils have played in and won a lot of close hockey games in this past season, they should be used to playoff-style hockey, where the defenses and the goaltending become much tighter. Therefore, that is all I have to say to the Devils for this first game: score first, shoot a lot. Yes, you still need to win four to move on; which makes this first game quite an important one.
Labels: 2007 Playoffs, Devils Game