Hedberg Stands Tall as Devils Outlast Flyers

Devils 2 Philadelphia 1 — shootout

Despite losing to the New York Islanders 2-0 at the Nassau Coliseum on Black Friday (snapping their modest two-game winning streak) the New Jersey Devils were able to rebound and beat the division-leading Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 2-1 in a shootout 24 hours later at Prudential Center. The Devils have now won four in a row at home and the last three of those can directly be attributed to the play in goal by Johan Hedberg who has surrendered only two goals in the three games, stopping 83 of the 85 shots he has faced. “He’s been incredible. It seems like he’s a goalie that the more shots he gets, the better he is,” said New Jersey’s Travis Zajac. “Today, they got a lucky one on him, other than that he’s been making key saves for us in key situations of games.”

Just 1:52 into the game the Flyers found themselves shorthanded for four minutes when Scott Hartnell smacked Brian Rolston in the head with his stick. Although the Devils didn’t score on the power play they gained some early territorial momentum and had seven shots on goal before Philly had registered its first of the day. Adam Mair scored his first goal of the season at 11:49, snapping a wrist shot past Flyers goalie Brian Boucher’s stick hand to give New Jersey the early 1-0 lead. “It feels great; I’ve had some chances,” said Mair afterwards. “As a hockey player, you always like to score; you always like to help contribute offensively.”

Philadelphia out-shot the Devils 41-18 for the game after the first eight minutes but they were never able to solve Hedberg until Daniel Briere scored the tying goal from behind the goal line 8:38 into the third period, his 12th of the season. “He just shot it at me,” said Hedberg. “I think he shot it from the side of the net, it bounced up and hit my thigh and went in. It’s just one of those things.”

After a scoreless overtime, the game went to a shootout where the first two shooters on each team were turned aside without a goal — Ilya Kovalchuk and Mattias Tedenby for New Jersey, Claude Giroux and Briere for Philly. Nikolay Zherdev beat Hedberg through his five-hole, putting pressure on Jason Arnott to keep the game alive for his fellow Devils. “I just had it in my head what I was going to do all along and it helps when you have it in your head what you are going to do,” confessed Arnott. “I knew Boucher was going down a little bit early, and I wanted to go (top) shelf; I wanted to make sure I got it off quick and hard…and it went in.”

Flyers’ captain Mike Richards rang a wrist shot off the post in round 4 before Zajac clinched the win with his sharp wrist shot that went by Boucher so fast it hit the back of the twine and popped right back out past the Flyers netminder. “I said to myself if I got a chance I would just fake a shot, and then try to go upstairs,” said Zajac. “To be able to come back today (after Friday’s loss) and get the two points against a very good hockey team, that was important for us.”

Game Notes: Devils winger Patrik Elias missed the game because his wife Petra was giving birth to their first child, Sophia Gabriella. Kovalchuk led all skaters in ice-time with 26:31, while Matt Carle led Philadelphia with 25:40. Jeff Carter, who assisted on Briere’s goal, led all players with nine shots on goal; Kovalchuk led New Jersey with eight. Flyers d-man Kimmo Timonen led all players with four blocked shots. New Jersey (8-14-2) is off until Thursday when they host Montreal (15-8-1) and Philadelphia (15-6-4) is back in action on Wednesday when they host Boston (12-7-2).

 

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Johan Hedberg (NJ) – 40 saves, win (4)

#2 – Travis Zajac (NJ) – g/w shootout goal

#3 – Daniel Briere (Phil) – pp goal (12)

Dan Rice can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com.

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Devils-Flyers Postgame Quotes [04.16.10]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after the Devils 5-3 Game 2 win over the Flyers:

Dainius Zubrus:
What about playing with Zach and Patrik, something you haven’t done too much of?

“Well it’s not exactly a new line because in the past couple of weeks, we’ve played quite a few games together. We had some success, me and Zach, and our centers were switched every now and then — sometimes it’s Travis (Zajac), sometimes it’s Patrik; we try to get on the pucks, try to play in their end as much as we can and not give them too many easy shifts against us. He (Zach) is obviously a great player, he’s on the puck all the time; it’s kind of easy to read him because he goes so hard every single time. So I try to not be too far from him so I can help him out to recover some pucks and try to get some shots.”

Zach Parise:

After you get the shorthanded goal early, is your confidence soaring?

“Yeah, when you get that early, first one, you’re more comfortable with the puck; you’re more comfortable to make plays, the game kind of slows down a bit for you. I think that was the case tonight.”

Did you guys learn you can’t take penalties against them tonight?

“Well I think that’s how it is this time of year no matter what; they have a good power play. It just seemed like every time we turned around for some reason, we were in the box. It really can take a toll on individual players, and it can really kill momentum too. We did a good job on our PK and we got the shorthanded goal too, so we did fine.”

Can you talk about the pass that Patrik made to you on your goal?

“Great pass. He saw me with a step on (Chris) Pronger and he was able to get it through (Matt) Carle; it was a great play. He sent me in alone on a breakaway.”

Talking about the play at the end of the game where the winning goal was scored…

“Zubie made a really good power move to the net and that’s what he brings to our line, what he brings to this team; he was able to chip it over the goalie’s shoulder there.”

Matthew Corrente:

How do you feel after your first playoff game?

“I was waiting for someone to come over to talk to me. It was awesome, it’s great to get a win and it was really intense out there; fortunately we came out on top.”

So that means you were the secret ingredient? Game 1 you don’t play, they lose, Game 2 you play they win…

“I’d like to think I contributed to the win, but everyone played well. It was a good team effort and we played solid for 60 minutes and got the win.”

The PK was sharp tonight and Marty was there to clean up anything else right?

“Guys stepped up when they needed to and that’s what it’s going to win playoff games. You find that out pretty quick, it feels good, but there’s a lot of work ahead of us.”

How long before you settled down during the game, if at all?

“There were a couple of butterflies I guess, at the start, but I played in a couple of games with these guys (12 games). After the first couple of shifts were out of the way, I felt good, I felt like I was in the game.”

When did you find out you were going to be in the lineup?

“I found out this morning at the pre-game skate; I was pretty pumped to hear that.”

Ilya Kovalchuk:

Talking about his penalties…

“Today I took a couple, especially the third penalty, maybe I should stay away from it; but we won the game, so who cares.”

It was the end of your shift right?

“Yeah we were leading by a goal, so I should’ve…but should’ve, would’ve; you know. But we got the win and who cares.”

Will you be a little more relaxed because you got the empty net goal?

“You know I would be relaxed if we won 4-3; I just got a chance, crossed the red line and shoot for the empty net. I saw (Jeff) Carter broke his stick so, it was nice to get a two-goal lead.”

What happened with Mike Richards on your second penalty?

“He was slashing and stuff, but its okay, its part of the game. He’s a tough player to play against and we have to watch him.”

Were you trying to get him to fight?

“Well, you never know (smiles).”

Patrik Elias:

Talking about playing on the PK with Parise…

“It was the first time, maybe all season, that me and Zach were out there on the PK together. So we kind of stayed on top of them, forced them to make mistakes. I had a great opportunity in the second period, we read off of each other real well tonight.”

Was the second period you team’s best period this series?

“I don’t know; I thought we played well in the first and third periods last game, we just didn’t score. Same thing today, we had a couple of goals, but at the same time we had a lot more opportunities. We just have to stay with it; it’s up and down throughout the games, throughout the playoffs, we just have to stay the course.”

What do you expect for Game 3 when you go to Philly?

“A lot of excitement, a lot of energy from their side and we just have to match it. We have to go in there and just play; focus on the job. They’ll be feeding off of their crowd, it will be loud — we just have to stay in control and play our game.”

Martin Brodeur:

Your thoughts on your team’s PK tonight…

“Gutsy, I think that’s the bottom line. We showed a lot of character, a lot of poise; we blocked shots, surviving — that’s playoff hockey. I think we really showed that we’re able to do that and I think we showed each other a little more than maybe anybody else. When you play intense, good things will happen.”

Down 2-0 would not be a good position to be in…

“For sure, especially going to Philly, it would’ve made our lives a little more difficult, but we’re really happy that it’s 1-1. We have to put our work boots on have a great performance in Philly over the next four days.”

Did you guys as a group recognize that Kovalchuk hadn’t won a (playoff) game and that it might’ve been in the back of his mind?

“Well we knew because he had only four games experience and if you have only four games experience (laughs) you didn’t win too many games, usually. It means a lot for him to be here; it’s funny, you almost want to talk to him like a little kid, but he’s not. He’s a guy that has a lot of experience; he’s scored a lot of goals, played a lot of minutes and was responsible for a whole organization for eight years or so. Now he comes in (here) and it’s a different step in his career. Definitely for him to get that monkey off his back, people talk about it all the time when you don’t perform in the playoffs or you’re not on the winning side. So I’m sure he’s really excited to get it out of the way and he showed what type of player he is — he was all over the ice, he was aggressive, such a big guy. It looks good for us when you see a top player getting himself involved like that.”

Were you surprised by his aggressiveness today?

“Well we’ve played him in the past and he was really aggressive. When things are not going your way, you have to find a way to make it happen, I think by playing physical, with his size, he’s going to create some havoc around and people will try to go after him and that’s how he’s going to excel; he gets himself in the game.”

Jacques Lemaire:

You got your big goal-scorer going tonight, Colin White

“(smiles) It’s funny that you talk about this, but in the playoffs you need that type of goals from different people, different players that you don’t expect. He’s one of them.”

What was the difference from tonight and Game 1?

“Well definitely the PK that we had; six out of seven penalties. I think we did a pretty good job considering that they scored on too many men, and PP. We scored one on the PP and one shorthanded; I think the guys battled well. We got too many penalties at different times, the whole game, but these type of games will happen.”

Did Zubrus score his goal because of his reach?

“I know he reached, but I thought Zach had that goal. But I thought he made a good move in bringing the puck to the front of the net.”

What did you think about Marty in the third period?

“He gave us a chance to win by making that huge save in the slot; the one-timer that I think was from (Ian) Laperierre that shot it. That was a huge save; otherwise they would’ve taken the lead.”

How would you describe Kovalchuk’s game tonight?

“I like Kovy, he might do some weird things according you guys; to me, he just lacks some experience in the playoffs, that’s all that he’s missing. There’s certain things he needs to watch — you can’t get tangled with a guy that plays ten minutes and have to sit out for two. Not when you’re one of the top players, so you have to stay away from that.”

Did you like what you saw from Elias tonight with his 3-assist performance?

“Patrik is playing really well, especially tonight there — moves the puck, controls the puck. When you’re looking at the players he’s playing against, he did a tremendous job.”

Your thoughts on how Corrente played tonight?

“I think he played fine; I just wanted to see, I had really a good memory what he did when he was with us during the season; I always talk to Lou (Lamoriello) about him, when he’s going to come up and so on. I said I’d like to try him and see what he can do on the wing, and that was why he played. His game, he played fine — he got even a scoring chance, which is nice from a guy like this.”

Were you okay with the all of the penalties called tonight?

“Uhhhhhh. Uhhhhhh. I can’t talk about it; I would love to, but I can not talk about this.”

Devils Even Series With 5-3 Win Over Flyers

Here is my recap of the Devils 5-3 Game 2 win against Philadelphia on Friday night:

Devils Even Series With 5-3 Win Over Flyers

Devils 5 Philadelphia 3

If a team expects to make a long postseason run with dreams of winning a Stanley Cup, they need to get goals from their stars — and the unexpected hero needs to score every now and then. Sure it was huge for New Jersey that Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk scored their first goals of the series against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night at Prudential Center, but the first question Devils coach Jacques Lemaire was asked after his squad’s 5-3 Game 2 win wasn’t about either one of them.

Q: You got your big goal-scorer going tonight, Colin White. “It’s funny that you talk about this,” said Lemaire with a grin, “but in the playoffs you need that type of goals from different people, different players that you don’t expect. He’s one of them.”

New Jersey had five different goal-scorers in the win as they evened the series at one game apiece and now they head to Philadelphia for the next two games. “We have to go in there and just play; focus on the job,” said Patrik Elias, who had a great game with three assists. “They’ll be feeding off of their crowd, it will be loud — we just have to stay in control and play our game.”

Parise started the scoring 2:45 into the game when he converted a perfect pass from Elias on a shorthanded breakaway, beating Flyers goalie Brian Boucher with a rising backhand shot. “It was a great pass,” said Parise. “He saw me with a step on (Chris) Pronger and he was able to get it through (Matt) Carle; great play. He sent me in alone on a breakaway.” The 1-0 Devils lead lasted until 9:33 when ex-Devil Arron Asham beat Martin Brodeur after a cross-ice pass from Claude Giroux.

It was Giroux almost six minutes later that gave Philly its first lead of the night when he deflected Carle’s shot from the circle through Brodeur’s legs on the power play. The Flyers carried the 2-1 lead into the second period despite being out-shot (11-7) for the third time in four periods of the series. White evened the game again 3:44 into the middle period when his long shot found its way through a maze of players and past Boucher for his first goal in 101 playoff games.

Another defenseman, this time Andy Greene, scored at 13:25 to restore the one-goal lead for the Devils, when he redirected Elias’ centering pass into the net on a power play. “Patrik is playing really well, especially tonight there — moves the puck, controls the puck,” said Lemaire. “When you’re looking at the players he’s playing against, he did a tremendous job.” Philadelphia battled back and tied it at 3-3 with a power play goal when Pronger deflected Kimmo Timonen’s past Brodeur with 1:12 left in the period.

The Flyers controlled the play for most of the third period and could’ve taken a lead if not for Brodeur’s save on Ian Laperierre’s one-timer from the slot with 8:40 remaining. “He gave us a chance to win by making that huge save in the slot,” said Lemaire. “Otherwise they would’ve taken the lead.”

The game seemed destined for overtime until Dainius Zubrus used his big body (6’5”, 225 lbs.) to force his way to the front of the net with the puck. “Zubie made a really good power move to the net and that’s what he brings to our line, what he brings to this team,” said Parise. “He was able to chip it over the goalie’s shoulder there.” The replays show Parise and Zubrus simultaneously hitting the puck with their sticks, but both players admitted afterwards they didn’t care who scored the goal — just that the goal was scored.

Kovalchuk finished off a three-point performance (and a night that saw him take three minor penalties) when he deposited a shot from center-ice into the empty Flyers net with 32.9 seconds left, sealing the Game 2 win for his team; his first playoff win in six career games. “I’m sure he’s really excited to get it out of the way and he showed what type of player he is — he was all over the ice, he was aggressive, such a big guy,” said Brodeur.

Lemaire shared the same sentiments about Kovalchuk, saying, “I like Kovy, he might do some weird things according you guys; to me, he just lacks some experience in the playoffs, that’s all that he’s missing.” But coach Lemaire didn’t like the fact that one of his stars was getting tangled with a part-time player (Darroll Powe) on the opposition. “There’s certain things he needs to watch — you can’t get tangled with a guy that plays ten minutes and have to sit out for two. Not when you’re one of the top players, so you have to stay away from that.”

Game Notes: Rookie defenseman Matthew Corrente made his postseason debut for New Jersey and played forward on the fourth line; he had one shot on goal in 5:14. Pronger led all skaters in ice-time with 27:26 and Travis Zajac led the Devils with 22:41. Parise led all players with six shots on goal and Jeff Carter led the Flyers with five, but was a -3; Only six skaters in the game did not record a shot on goal (Blair Betts and Oskars Bartulis for Philly/ Pierre-Luc Leblond, Bryce Salvador, Mike Mottau and Martin Skoula for New Jersey). Boucher finished with 28 saves and Brodeur made 26 saves in his 99th career playoff win. Game 3 is Sunday night at 6pm in Philadelphia at the Wachovia Center.

Game 2 Hero: Patrik Elias

Game 2 Goat: Jeff Carter

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Patrik Elias (NJ) – 3 assists (3)

#2 – Dainius Zubrus (NJ) – gw goal (1)

#3 – Zach Parise (NJ) – sh goal (1), assist (2)

Dan Rice covers the New Jersey Devils & NHL for NYCSportsnetwork.com, & contributes to IslesNation.com. He can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com.

Pronger & Flyers Take Game 1 from Devils

Here is my recap of the Devils 2-1 Game 1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night:

Pronger & Flyers Take Game 1 from Devils

Philadelphia 2               Devils 1

The Philadelphia Flyers won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal 2-1 over the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday night at the Prudential Center, thanks in large part to the only player on their roster with a Stanley Cup ring — Chris Pronger. The veteran defenseman played a large role in his team’s series opening win, scoring the first goal of the game (via the power play) and he was on the ice for literally half of the game — 30:01. The Devils had some chances to score sporadically throughout the game, but they never sustained any pressure, particularly on the power play, thanks in large part to Pronger and friends.

New Jersey held Philadelphia to just 14 shots on net, but that was all they needed to take the home-ice advantage away from their rivals. “We have to be better on the PP obviously,” Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner said afterwards. “We controlled the five-on-five play for the most part and we did a pretty good job limiting their chances; our power play just didn’t score a goal.”

“I think we played a pretty good game,” Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said. “We had some chances that, the puck didn’t go in. We limited them to a certain number of chances, which, that’s what we were looking for.” Both teams squandered first period power plays as the game remained scoreless heading into the decisive second period. Flyers’ winger Simon Gagne snapped a sharp angle shot that Martin Brodeur initially saved, but Pronger slid the puck into the net from just outside the crease at 9:25 to give Philly a 1-0 lead.

A short time later the Devils best scoring chance of the game came when Ilya Kovalchuk brought the crowd to its feet with an amazing rush up ice that saw him slice through four Flyers like a hot knife through butter — before Brian Boucher eventually stifled his wrist shot and made the fans sit back down with a nice save. “He had numerous chances tonight but couldn’t get a goal,” Lemaire said of Kovalchuk.

Philadelphia’s captain Mike Richards doubled the lead when he converted a nifty spin-o-rama pass from Ian Laperierre and blasted a shot past Brodeur at 16:27. “It hit the top of my pad (over my toe) and it went in,” said Brodeur, “it hit the underside of the crossbar and came back out.” Laperierre knew he took a big risk with his dazzling pass, but was happy with the result. “I looked over my shoulder and I saw Richie there; I told him on the bench if I missed that pass I don’t think I’ll see the ice again,” explained Laperierre, “but you take chances and it worked.”

New Jersey was given multiple opportunities to climb back into the contest during the third period, as the Flyers took two penalties — including a high-sticking double minor. “We didn’t generate much on the power play at all; we did a good job of entering the zone, but after that they did a good job of keeping us to the outside. We didn’t get enough shots,” Langenbrunner said.

But the penalty killers were outstanding for coach Peter Laviolette’s squad and eventually killed off all five Devil power plays in the game. “The PK, we had some big kills in the third period, obviously the double-minor, not the way you want to start the period when you’re up 2-0 and having to kill off four minutes of the first five minutes,” said the Flyers coach. “I thought the penalty killers did a real good job.”

Finally, with 2:43 left in the game Travis Zajac gave the home crowd something to cheer about when his long shot slipped past Boucher, thanks to a double screen of the goaltender by Zach Parise and Dainius Zubrus. “We were looking for a goal earlier than when we got ours,” said Lemairthat would’ve helped.

The Flyers held on, despite having only two shots on goal during the final twenty minutes, as Pronger and Boucher were as strong as they were all game long during the last 163 seconds. “I felt pretty calm,” said Boucher afterwards, “for me, there’s nothing to lose.” Kovalchuk may have been frustrated in his first playoff game with the Devils, but he didn’t sound like it after the game. “It takes four games to win a series,” said Kovalchuk, “they got the first one and we have to find a way to fight through them.”

Game Notes: The Devils looked out-of-sync from the opening face-off and had numerous sloppy line changes throughout the evening. Philadelphia is now 29-32 all-time in Game 1’s, New Jersey is 19-10. Defenseman Paul Martin led the Devils in ice-time with 24:46; Flyers blueliner Matt Carle led all players with four blocked shots. Parise led all players with five shots on goal; Laperierre and Carle led all players with four hits apiece. Game 2 will be Friday night at 7:30pm at Prudential Center.

Game 1 Hero: Chris Pronger

Game 1 Goat: Devils Power Play

Dan’s Three Stars of the Game:

#1 – Brian Boucher (Phil) – 23 saves, win (1-0)

#2 – Chris Pronger (Phil) – pp goal (1)

#3 – Mike Richards (Phil) – gw goal (1), assist (1)

Dan Rice covers the New Jersey Devils & NHL for NYCSportsnetwork.com, & contributes to IslesNation.com. He can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com.

Devils-Flyers Preview

The New Jersey Devils will square off against their division-rivals the Philadelphia Flyers in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs beginning on Wednesday night at Prudential Center. The two teams have met three prior times in the postseason: New Jersey beat Philadelphia in the 1995 (six games) and 2000 Eastern Conference Finals (seven games) and the Flyers bested the Devils in five games in 2004’s opening round.

This past season, Philly dominated the Devils during the six-game season series with a 5-1 edge (outscoring them 20-13), but struggled to make the postseason — qualifying on the season’s final day. “For us it means nothing, for them it means everything; that’s the way you look at those things,” said New Jersey captain Jamie Langenbrunner of the one-sided season series. “They obviously had our number during the regular season, they did things that took us off our game — we’re going to have to address that, we’re going to have to understand the way they play and play accordingly.

Offense: Both teams are filled with goal-scorers who can get hot and carry their teams to a series win. New Jersey’s top two lines will contain any combination of Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, Langenbrunner, Patrik Elias, Ilya Kovalchuk and Dainius Zubrus, while Philadelphia will roll out the likes of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, Simon Gagne and Claude Giroux. Both teams also have valuable grinders who could turn out to be the unsung heroes in this series – look for David Clarkson (Devils) and Ian Laperierre (Flyers) to both have an impact at some point during the series.

Edge: Even. As I stated, both teams have some serious firepower when clicking on all cylinders so it will be interesting to see which team (if any) struggles to find their goal scoring touch.

Defense: The Devils have played with a so-called ‘no-name’ defense corps since Brian Rafalski departed for Detroit, but this season they allowed the fewest goals in the entire NHL (191) and they did while their best defenseman (Paul Martin) missed 59 games. The Flyers have a collection of nasty blueliners (Chris Pronger, Braydon Coburn) and talented (Kimmo Timonen, Matt Carle) that are all tough to play against. “It’s going to be tough, it doesn’t matter who you play; it’s going to be a tough series,” said Clarkson after learning his Devils would tangle with the Flyers. “A team like that, you know you’re going into war and that’s what we’re going to do in here. We’re going to play team hockey, play great defensively and give everything we have every night.”

The biggest questions facing each squad will be what kind of impact will Andy Greene and Martin Skoula have for New Jersey and will Pronger be able to stay out of the penalty box for the Flyers.

Edge: Philly. Even if the Devils survive this round, chances are that Parise, Kovalchuk and Elias may be worn down from having to deal with Pronger for possibly seven games.

Goaltending: Martin Brodeur and Brian Boucher last met in the playoffs in 2000 when the Devils rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to beat Boucher and the Flyers at Philadelphia in Game 7. Since then Brodeur has appeared in 92 playoff contests and Boucher has only been in four. Brodeur comes into the series maybe as hot as he’s ever been to close a regular season — surrendering only seven goals over seven games, including back-to-back shutouts. Boucher (4-6-1 in last eleven starts) is basically the only goalie left standing in Philly’s crease after injuries to Ray Emery and Michael Leighton, so if he goes down the Flyers will be in deep trouble.

Edge: New Jersey. Brodeur is hot and Boucher, despite winning two of the final three games, is not.

Intangibles: The Flyers come into the series with the NHL’s third best power play (21.5%) and their penalty killers ranked 11th (83.0%). The Devils finished 11th on the PP (18.7%) and the least-penalized team in the league finished 13th on the PK (82.8%). Both coaches — Jacques Lemaire (1995 with NJ) and Peter Laviolette (2006 with Carolina) — have won a Stanley Cup, so they both know what it is going to take to guide their teams to the where they want to be. New Jersey has more experience as far as rings go, but Philadelphia has had more recent success during the postseason.

Edge: Even. The specialty teams will be a wash, but if the Flyers take reckless penalties (as they are known to do) the Devils will have to capitalize to take control of the series.

Prediction: New Jersey in 6. This will be a hard-hitting, nasty series that will leave many players on both sides battered and bruised. “It’s going to be very intense games. I know it’s a big rivalry and the rivalry is going to continue,” said Kovalchuk. I believe Brodeur will steal a game (for the first time since ‘03) in Philly and avoid sending the series back to the Rock for a Game 7.

Dan Rice covers the New Jersey Devils & NHL for NYCSportsnetwork.com. He can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com.