NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2012: 5 Reasons the Devils Will Beat the Flyers

Robert TheodorsonSenior Analyst IApril 29, 2012

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2012: 5 Reasons the Devils Will Beat the Flyers

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    Sunday's NHL playoff action kicks off at 3 p.m. EST with the New Jersey Devils visiting the Philadelphia Flyers.

    This is a game of Atlantic Division rivals who have a deep-seated hatred for each other after several postseason meetings. 

    Most recently, the Philadelphia Flyers eliminated the New Jersey Devils in five games two years ago en route to their first appearance in the Stanley Cup finals since matching up against the Detroit Red Wings back in 1997. 

    This season, the Flyers took a commanding 3-0 series lead against the Pittsburgh Penguins before surrendering two losses and finally closing up the series in convincing fashion in Game 6 in Philly.

    The Devils are coming off a double-OT win against the third-seeded Florida Panthers.

    Get ready for the action Sunday afternoon as the winner will move on to the Eastern Conference finals!

The Devils Actually Play Defense

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    One thing the Flyers didn't have to worry about in the first round was a team that could play in all three zones.

    The Pittsburgh Penguins played some kind of hockey, unbeknown to most hockey fans, that didn't include a defense or goaltending for that matter. This left a national audience feeling as if the scores wouldn't vary much if the entire game had been a six-on-six with no goalies.

    The Devils may not have the best defensive, but they are responsible in their own zone. Marek Zidlicky, Andy Greene and Peter Harrold are capable of moving the puck while Bryce Salvador and Anton Volchenkov can punish forwards who dare to enter their territory.

    Injuries are always a major concern in the playoffs. However, with the Devils, they might receive a nice offensive spark if one were to happen. Waiting in the press box for the entirety of the first round was stud rookie defenseman Adam Larsson.

They Will Restore the Penalty Kill to Historic Proportions

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    When the Devils return home on Friday, the first thing coach Peter DeBoer will be working on is the penalty kill.

    During the regular season, the Devils posted an NHL record 89.6 percent PK.

    The Devils allowed eight power-play goals against the Panthers.

    If there's one thing that is not going to slip past DeBoer's mind, it's going to be how poorly the Devils' short-handed play dropped.

    The Devils are an ultra-aggressive penalty-killing team that is completely capable of scoring short-handed goals in bunches.

Brodeur Is in Great Form

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    Although the penalty kill has let him down in the postseason, at even strength Brodeur has proved he is once again amongst the league's elite.

    After blowing several leads in the first round, Broduer stood tall when it mattered most against the Panthers.

    Look for Marty to increase his own newly-acquired NHL record for most postseason shutouts.

Claude Giroux's Excellence Will No Longer Be a Surprise

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    Rewind to before the Pens-Flyers series got underway.

    All eyes were on Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Obviously, the Penguins' two stars didn't deliver and as a result they are golfing right now.

    On the other side, in the orange and white sat Danny Briere, who had a proven playoff resume, surrounded by a number of great players like Jaromir Jagr, Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux. All played excellent, but there is no way anybody thought that Claude Giroux would have ended the first round as the points leader in the entire NHL postseason.

    Giroux is going to have a bull's eye painted on him in Round 2. In the same manner that Capitals star winger Alexander Ovechkin receives double-coverage, expect the same for Giroux.

    Fortunately for the Flyers, if they can get one of their other stars open on a regular basis, they will capitalize. However, if the Devils are successful in shutting down "The Wizard," Philly could be in for quite a few headaches.

Home-Ice Disadvantage

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    The New York Rangers were the only team in East to win a home series, and even in that case, it took them seven games to achieve a win as the top seed in the East, only separated by one goal.

    The Washington Capitals, New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers all took the game on the road and came out victorious.

    The old adage, "There is no home-ice advantage in the playoffs," rings truer than ever in these playoffs.

    If the second round follows the current trend, luck will be on the side of New Jersey.