I am so very excited to watch the Devils tonight, after 1 taste of playoff hockey, it makes you like a rabid wolf who's got a sniff of meat. You want more, and more and more! Er...4 OT's last night have gotten us all a little delirious. Anyway...the Devils take on the Lightning tonight in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series.
The Lightning have a somewhat balanced attack, but there is certainly a drop-off after Lecavalier-St. Louis-Prospal, goes down to the Brad Richards line (Usually with Nathan Perrin and Russlan Fedotenko). They have a backline that can contribute big time with Dan Boyle and Filip Kuba. Their goaltending situation is the reason the entire NHL On VERSUS panel picked the Devils to win this series. Johan Holmqvist is an unproven playoff rookie, and Marc Denis is...well, not on the roster at the moment. Karri Ramo has been promoted to Holmqvist's backup. So, not to certain on the backline for Tampa.
The Devils have gotten here, as they usually do, through solid team play, timely scoring, fantastic goaltending, you know, the usuals. This year there is some drama around the New Jersey Devils as coach Claude Julien was fired with 3 games remaining and coach Lou Lamoriello took over and went 2-0-1. The key to the Devils winning this series will be again, timely scoring, but the EGG line really must come through. If they don't score early and often the Devils will be in trouble.
I think that the other key in this series in the Madden-Pandolfo line versus whatever line has 2 of Tampa's holy trinity on it. If you can neutralize Tampa's offense to the point where only one player can score, the Devils will have a chance. Also, Brian Rafalski's offensive involvement will be a key to this series. If he can rack of the assists and get the Devil power play moving, New Jersey can take this easily. If they end up calling a lot of penalties, likely it'll be the Lightning guilty of most, and the Devils will finish this up quickly.
As I've said before, Devils in 5.
LET's GO NJ!