Flyers-Devils Series Breakdown
Flyers-Devils Series Breakdown By Frank Seravalli FORWARDS Flyers: The Flyers scored an incredible 30 goals in the first round. It would be a mistake to think scoring at that extraordinary clip will continue against a scrappy New Jersey team. The Flyers have the playoffs' top scorer in Claude Giroux (14 points), but their scoring production from secondary players such as Wayne Simmonds and Matt Read was relatively quiet.
Flyers: The Flyers scored an incredible 30 goals in the first round. It would be a mistake to think scoring at that extraordinary clip will continue against a scrappy New Jersey team. The Flyers have the playoffs' top scorer in Claude Giroux (14 points), but their scoring production from secondary players such as Wayne Simmonds and Matt Read was relatively quiet.
Devils: New Jersey has a lethal triumvirate of their own in Ilya Kovalchuk, Zach Parise, and Travis Zajac. Sean Couturier's line will likely try to shadow them again. But where the Devils are sneaky is in players like David Clarkson, who finished with 30 goals and 138 penalty minutes this year. Old friend Patrik Elias, a stalwart from the Devils' Stanley Cup years, followed up a 78-point regular season with just two goals against Florida. Rookie of the year candidate Adam Henrique added his first two playoff goals when they counted most, in Game 7, including the double-overtime series clincher.
Flyers: Suddenly, the Flyers defense seems to be rounding back into shape. Andrej Meszaros, who hasn't played since March 1 because of lower-back surgery, isn't likely to be ready until the middle of the series, but he could provide a huge boost. The week off had to do wonders for Kimmo Timonen's own wonky back and Nick Grossmann's concussion symptoms. That rookie Erik Gustafsson performed so admirably in Game 6 is just a bonus.
Devils: The Devils stuck with the same six defenders for all seven games against Florida. Marek Zidlicky, acquired from Minnesota in late February, is probably the Devils' top overall defenseman. New Jersey allowed 17 goals in seven first-round games.
Flyers: Which Ilya Bryzgalov will show up? Against Pittsburgh, that varied from game to game. But if he plays anything like the unflappable brick he was in Games 5 and 6, allowing just one goal in the last 90:07 of the series, the Flyers will be in fine shape. Yes, the Flyers blocked 40 shots in front of him, but Bryzgalov dusted himself off after a shaky Game 4 and prevented the series from going the distance.
Devils: Martin Brodeur is riding into the second round off a stellar performance to close out the Panthers in Game 7. Brodeur looked like the Brodeur of old in South Florida last Thursday night, but he is still a shell of his former self. He turns 40 on May 6. His stats were nearly equal to Bryzgalov during the regular season, which is saying something, considering Bryzgalov's horrid first five months.
Flyers: In a word, the Flyers' power play in the first round was ridiculous, connecting on 12 of 23 opportunities (52.2 percent) and tormenting what was the NHL's third-best penalty kill from the regular season. The Flyers also chipped in with three shorthanded goals in the first three games, relegating the Penguins' power play to just an even standing.
Devils: The good news for the Flyers is that New Jersey's penalty kill, which set a modern-day league record for allowing just 27 goals in the regular season, wasn't nearly up to snuff against Florida. The Devils allowed nine goals on 27 power-play attempts. New Jersey's power play was a relatively pedestrian 5 for 25 (20 percent).
Flyers: They've had a week off, but it may have been more important to get injured players rest than to worry about the adverse effect of a high-flying team going off the tracks because of time off. The Flyers need to remain patient, as the series will look entirely different from the one with Pittsburgh.
Devils: The Prudential Center, mostly empty in the regular season, isn't exactly a tough place to play. Devils coach Pete DeBoer is making his first foray into the playoffs after three mediocre seasons in Florida.