So the New Jersey Devils have been eliminated in the first
round of the playoffs for the third straight year, this time in just five games
by the Philadelphia Flyers, a team that sneaked into the playoffs on the season’s
What’s wrong in New Jersey? There is plenty of blame to go around.
In this series, the Devils didn’t seem to put forth a solid playoff
effort, especially in Game 5 when New Jersey showed little heart, came out flat
and laid down when they fell behind. In
the third period, down 3-0, instead of playing like a club that was desperate
to keep their season going, they played like they knew they were dead and
seemed to be going through the motions. This is not typical of a team coached by Jacques Lemaire.
Part of the focus in New Jersey is going to fall on future
Hall of Famer, Martin Brodeur, arguably the best goaltender in NHL
Against the Flyers, Brodeur did
make some impressive saves, but his final numbers were not good enough to get
his team past the Flyers. Brodeur
finished with a GAA of 3.01 and a save percentage of .881. Those are unacceptable stats during the
regular season and let alone for the playoffs.
He was clearly outplayed by Brian Boucher, an NHL journeyman who shook
off the rust and played very well for the Flyers.
Brodeur will be 38 next month. If the Devils want to give Marty a chance at
one more Stanley Cup run, they have to insist that Brodeur play 50-55 games
during the regular season instead of his customary 75. New Jersey would be better off finishing a
bit lower in the standings but having a fresh Brodeur ready for the playoffs. I’m sure even Brodeur would trade his Vezina
Trophy nomination for a Stanley Cup ring.
The Devils also lost the battle on special teams. New Jersey was successful on only 12.5
percent of their power plays while allowing the Flyers to score eight goals
with the man advantage (27.6 percent success).
Also, their best players didn’t rise to the occasion. Ilya Kovalchuk’s lack of playoff experience
showed and he looked tentative and nervous in Games 1 and 2. Zach Parise, the Devils’ best scorer, tallied
only once during the five-game series. That
just isn’t enough.
The Devils needed their best players to rise to the
occasion. Look at Sidney Crosby and what
he is doing for the Penguins. Crosby has
13 points in five games for the defending Stanley Cup champions and when his team
fell behind in the series 1-0, Crosby elevated his game and was clearly the
best player on the ice in the last four games.
Satan’s Spell Cuts Sabres
Veteran forward Miro Satan came up huge for the Bruins,
scoring the game-winning goal in overtime against Buffalo in Game 4. Satan’s agent, Allan Walsh, tweeted that, “Miro’s signing by Boston could well be the best UFA signing
of the year.”
While that may be a slight exaggeration,
Satan has played well for the Bruins. He’s
come a long way since I saw him skating on his own on Long Island during the
first half of the season. Whether the
Bruins re-sign Satan or not, Miro has shown he can still play in this league.
The Sharks finally played a dominant game Thursday night,
looking like the team that finished first overall in the West. The Sharks have been getting key scoring from
their second and third lines, but the top trio of Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton
and Patrick Marleau has a total of only one goal between them in the first give
games of the series. If that line ever
gets going, look out.
Meanwhile, Evgeni Nabokov has played very well for the
Sharks, holding down a 1.72 goals against average and a .930 save
percentage. Dan Boyle’s own goal may
have been just what the Sharks needed to raise the intensity level.
I have always enjoyed the “White Out” during the
playoffs. The Coyotes used it in their
first two home playoff games and it’s great since it is a tradition that dates
back to the team’s days in Winnipeg.
There is one little detail though: when the Jets fans did it, the home
team actually wore white. Now, the
Coyotes fans are all dressed in white and so is the opposition.
Maybe it’s time for a “Red Out”?