GAME PREVIEW: EASTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS GAME 1 – Flyers vs. New Jersey Devils

The Game: The time that every hockey fan waits for from the day Training Camps open across the league in August and September is finally here.

The second seeded New Jersey Devils – the reigning Atlantic Division Champions – look to prove their worth against one of their toughest combatants: the seventh seeded Philadelphia Flyers.  Tonight, in Newark, NJ, the Devils and Flyers will clash for the first game of what many are expecting to be a long series.  The Devils come into the playoffs on a high: they’ve won their fourth divsion title in five seasons since the NHL Lockout and are appearing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the thirteenth consecutive season.  The Flyers also enter the playoffs in strong spirits, coming off a playoff-clinching-shootout-winning-regular-season-finale to lock up their berth in the playoffs.  The Orange and Black have qualified for the playoffs for the 3rd straight season.

The Story: Game one.  It’s a simple, yet complex, as that.  Both these teams won’t waste any time trying to get a feel for each other, which will be great.  The two sides are so familiar with one another due to the fact that they meet six times a season in divisional action, that there will be no hesitation by either side to attack early.  The Devils will be playing in the friendly confines of “The Rock” – the Prudential Center – this evening, but the home ice advantage by “Jersey’s Team” in this series is quite misleading.  The Flyers traditionally have had a fanbase that travels exceptionally well, and given that this is the playoffs, I wouldn’t expect anything different.  The Devils have also struggled mightily to sell games out this season, so even though the amount of Devils fans will severely outnumber the amount of Flyers fans in New Jersey tonight, don’t be surprised to hear the Flyers fans making their presence felt.  With that, the attention then turns to the ice.  As everyone knows at this point, the regular season strictly belonged to the Flyers this year.  The Orange and Black went 5-1-0 against their Atlantic Division rivals, twice putting up five goals.  However, this is the playoffs, and this is a completely different animal.  At this stage of the game, it’s about consistency, and the fact of who wants it more – two aspects of the Flyers’ game that the team has struggled with this season.

Who to Watch on the Devils: Martin Brodeur, Goaltender.

Brodeur provides a supreme challenge for the Flyers' snipers

It’s very simple in this series: if Martin Brodeur is ordinary, the Flyers stand a terrific shot of advancing to the next round.  With that being said, Brodeur is one of the best ever to man the pipes in the history of the NHL and it’s very unreasonable to expect him not to be raring to go for this series.  Perhaps even more so this year than in the past, there are a ton of questions surrounding Brodeur and his recent inability to perform at a high level in the playoffs.  The main concern in the past is that Marty has been overworked in regular season play, leading to extreme fatigue under the pressure and stress that comes with all the intensity of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  The same question could be raised this season, as Brodeur started in goal for New Jersey in 76 of a possible 82 games.  All the starts didn’t go without any merit: Brodeur lead the entire National Hockey League with 45 wins.  However, it would behoove the Flyers to throw as many pucks towards the New Jersey net as possible and try to fluster Brodeur and get him off his game early on in this series.  If the Flyers can score early on Brodeur, it would go a long way towards increasing their confidence levels in this series.

The Skinny: Tonight marks game one of this Eastern Conference Quarter Finals Series.  The Flyers and Devils are meeting in their fourth ever head-to-head matchup in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  The two teams have split the four series, but the Devils have had the upper hand recently, winning two of the last three – the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals and the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals.  However, the Flyers won the last meeting between these two teams, winning four games to one in the 2004 Eastern Conference Quarter Finals.

Notes: Much like in the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals, tonight will feature the same goaltending match-up ten years later: Brian Boucher for the Flyers vs. Martin Brodeur for the Devils.  Both head coaches – Jacques Lemaire and Peter Laviolette -have each won a Stanley Cup in the past, so they understand what goes in to being successful at this stage of the game.  On the Flyers’ end, the Orange and Black had Oskars Bartulis skating with Braydon Coburn in practice yesterday, leaving some to wonder if Ryan Parent may be a healthy scratch tonight in New Jersey.  Parent played less than 10 minutes in the regular season finale against the New York Rangers.  Devils enforcer Andrew Peters remains out of action with a scratched eye.  He was injured on March 25.

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One Response to “GAME PREVIEW: EASTERN CONFERENCE QUARTERFINALS GAME 1 – Flyers vs. New Jersey Devils”

  1. Hi,what a great shirt,thanks for sharing.I will get one like that.bill

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