With the NHL playoffs underway many New Jersey Devils fans are asking themselves, “Do the Devils have what it takes to get past the Flyers in round one?”
My take on this— absolutely! The Devils placed second in the Eastern Conference (and first in the Atlantic Division) so there is no reason why they shouldn’t take the seventh place Flyers down in the first few games. Right?
But for some reason, the Devils have struggled against the Flyers all season—they went 1-4-1 against Philly. Can they overcome the defeats of this season and send the Flyers back to Philadelphia?
The Devils don’t want another first-round incident like that which occurred last year against Carolina. Will a repeat of last year happen again? Stay tuned to find out.
Game One airs tonight on MSG Plus at 7:30 PM, EST at the Prudential Center in Newark.
Here are the players that I feel will be key components to acquire a first round victory for New Jersey.
The Devils don’t possess all-star defensemen other than Paul Martin, but intimidation against opposing teams has been their strategy for winning.
Other defenders Colin White, Mike Mottau, and Bryce Salvador have all proved themselves to outwit other team’s offenses this year.
During this season Andy Greene made six goals, leading the Devils’ defense on scoring.
All of these guys will be vital if the Devils want a chance to fly past the Flyers to the second round.
Ilya Kovalchuk came to the Devils this season in early February from the Atlanta Thrashers. Only having one previous chance in seven seasons to compete in the playoffs, Kovalchuk is thirsty for success in the postseason.
He is admittedly pumped for the playoffs and the opportunity to play as a Devil.
“If we play solid, I don’t think a lot of teams can beat us.”
He finished the 2009-10 season with 41 goals and 44 assists. Ten goals and 17 assists were gained during his 27 games with the Devils.
If Kovalchuk keeps scoring goals and lives up to his admitted excitement, the Devils should have no problem with him on the ice against Philly.
Longtime Devils’ veteran Patrik Elias will play an important role in this series. During the Devils’ five games against Philadelphia this year, Elias had two goals and three assists.
Elias is one who needs to keep up his puck-handling ability and scored goals in order to shut down the Flyers.
The alternate captain and Devils’ all-time leading scorer has plenty of postseason experience wisdom that would come in handy for players such as Kovalchuk.
The Devils other alternate captain, Zach Parise will have to work hard this series as well.
With 38 goals during the 2009-10 season, Parise is right behind Kovalchuk as New Jersey’s best offensive goal scorer. Not to mention he is one of the league's top goal scorers.
If Parise keeps up his shot percentage, good attitude, and outstanding leadership, the Devils will come that much closer to defeating the Flyers.
But the Devils need to be prepared because according to Zach, “It’s going to be tough.”
What can I say about Marty?! He is the heart and soul of this team and the Devils need him the most.
Having acquired his 600th career win last week, the Flyers stand a tough chance against this veteran goalie despite their impressive offense.
With a solid defense and a significant rise in goals this year, Brodeur should feel content with his team yet still competitive during round one.