There is something to be said for keeping your cool even in the toughest of situations. For the New Jersey Devils it meant returning to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in nine years.
New Jersey eliminated the Philadelphia Flyers with a 3-1 series clinching victory in game five of their Eastern Conference semi-finals match-up. The sixth-seeded Devils scored twice in the first period and once in the third cruising to a relatively easy win.
Once again the Flyers scored first and once again the Devils patience and resiliency paid dividends. In fact New Jersey became the first Eastern Conference team to win four straight games in these playoffs despite trailing in all four.
For a team that missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 1996, the win is pretty special. New Jersey improved to 8-4 this postseason and have officially reached the half-way point to capturing the franchises fourth Stanley Cup title.
It was obvious from game two on who the better team was, but New Jersey took it a step further by being the bigger men in the series as well.
The Flyers tried to yap and instigate their way into the Devils heads as they did in their first round annihilation of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Unfortunately, it backfired.
Time and time again New Jersey refused to take the bait, which only seemed to frustrate the Flyers even more. It was that type of discipline by New Jersey and lack of discipline on Philly’s part that caused Flyers star Claude Giroux to foolishly go after Dainus Zubrus‘ head in frustration. The illegal hit resulted in a one game suspension for Giroux and was essentially the final nail in Philadelphia’s coffin.
Nobody could have expected the Devils to have such a relatively easy time with the Flyers especially after struggling in the first round against the Florida Panthers. Kudos goes to the entire coaching staff for having the team so well prepared.
I can’t say enough about each and every player on the Devils bench from the role players to the stars.
- Head coach Pete Deboer has assembled probably the best fourth line in Devils history, “Crash” line included.
- Ilya Kovalchuk played in only fours games (injured for game 2) and collected 7 points.
- Zach Parise had less offensive production but that doesn’t mean he was any less productive. His minutes on the ice were spent out hustled ever single Flyer on the ice and he did that all series.
- David Clarkson scored two game-winning goals in the series after having none against the Panthers.
- Bryce Salvador scored two goals after having none in the regular season.
- Adam Larsson came back and scored a huge goal in game two.
- Martin Brodeur turned 40 during the series and can still play at a high level. His surgical precision with the puck stymied the Philadelphia fore check.
Nobody and I mean nobody gave New Jersey a chance in this series but here they are awaiting the winning of the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals series. New York leads the series 3-2 with play resuming on Wednesday night.
Hopefully that series goes 7 games. A little rest could do the Devils battered bodies some good.
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