Sunday, December 13, 2009

Devils cruise past reeling Flyers at the Rock

After Friday's uneven performance against Scott Clemmensen and the Panthers, I thought maybe the schedule of seven games in eleven nights was catching up to the Devils. Even though the Flyers have been struggling big-time I figured eventually they were due for a good one themselves, not to mention they were 2-0 against us so far this year going into yesterday's matchup. So needless to say I was a little worried about last night's game.

Then the Devils proceeded to have perhaps their most dominant period of the season, doing what championship teams do and stomping on a struggling team early - to the tune of three first-period goals, which proved more than enough against the sinking Flyers as New Jersey coasted to a 4-1 win.

Early on the tone was set by one of the youngest Devils, when on a power play Nicklas Bergfors came into the zone with speed and completely made Braydon Coburn look silly, chipping the puck by him and then taking his own pass before easily beating a shell-shocked Brian Boucher in goal - giving the rookie his tenth of the year at 2:33. Though assists were given to Brian Rolston and Martin Brodeur, clearly the goal was a display of young Bergfors' skill. Bergfors would add his second of the game (also on the power play) nearly ten minutes later when he made a good play - though at the time I wondered if he got away with hooking - to keep the puck in the zone and started a play that involved a Zach Parise pass, Travis Zajac shot and Bergfors putting home the rebound at 12:31.

Bergfors wouldn't be the only star on this night however. At 15:47 the Devils scored their third of the period when Vladimir Zharkov made an excellent play to retain puck possession along the boards, then passed to a wide-open Patrik Elias in the shot and Elias wristed home his fifth of the year. Honestly I had no idea until the PA announcement that it was Elias's 300th of his career though and he got the predictable warm applause. In a funny way, Elias would show one of the reasons he's so beloved by Devils fans later in the game.

Speaking of milestones, seems like everything else has been dwarfed by Brodeur's shutout quest this week, one of the reasons I'm hoping to get this over with asap. You can't blame the media or the player on this one though, setting an all-time NHL record is a big deal. Still, I cringed when this well-meaning kid from the Ukraine who sat next to me last night asked in all innocence if Marty would get the shutout record with one last night. Bear in mind he was asking near the end of the first period. Like I said before, I don't want to hear about any shutout until the second intermission at least, it's just too soon. Especially last night since I figured eventually pride would kick in for the Flyers and we'd go on tilt because of weariness.

What I feared would happen in the second period did - and yet the Devils came out of the period with the same three-goal lead they entered it with. Well, almost the same after a dominant first fifteen minutes by the Flyers where they outshot the Devils 12-3 with some help from officials that seem to be hypnotized by Peter Laviolette (I swear it was like watching the '06 Hurricanes again with all the stuff they were allowed to get away with). Still, MB30's shutout was alive and well until he allowed a clunker of a goal to Claude Giroux shortside at 15:03. After that the Flyers upped their vigor even more and I was just hoping to get out of the period 3-1...until Rolston and Elias worked a two-on-one with thirty-four seconds left in the period, with Rolston's nice pass finding an open Elias for his second goal of the night.

I knew that goal would be too much for the Flyers to overcome, and so it came to pass as they looked like they wanted no part of the third period, except for trying to throw the occasional cheap shot. Of course Chris Pronger got into the act with his usual elbow of Parise up high, and as usual the refs saw nothing. Why this guy gets protected so much is beyond me. Yes he's a great player but he's also a thug that could have been suspended infinitely more than he has been.

About the only other memorable part of the third was when the Devils threw Bergfors and Elias onto the ice late (different shifts) to try and get their hat trick. While Bergfors did get a couple of attempts on goal, Elias seriously wanted no part of the hat trick haha. Ironically he and Rolston nearly worked another nice two-on-one in front, with Elias's pass finding a wide-open Rolston but ended with Boucher making one of his few good saves of the night. Elias passed up other open shots too, it's that unselfishness that endears him to teammates and fans alike...but goshdarnit Patty I wanted to see one last night :)

Oh well, any time we kick the Flyers' butt it's a good night nonetheless. Finally some rest for the weary as the Devils are off until Wednesday when they get back at it with a home game against the Canadiens - without Brian Gionta but with Scott Gomez.

BoNY Three Stars:

  1. Patrik Elias (two goals, +2)

  2. Nicklas Bergfors (two PP goals)

  3. Martin Brodeur (22/23 saves, assist)

1 comment:

Derek Felix said...

Pronger is a great player but one of the cheapest players in the league. Until the league gets more serious (suspensions), we'll continue to see such disrespect along with the double standard.

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