There's no stopping the Devils. Luck of the Irish not required to hand a beat down of what's looking more and more like defending chumps. Patrik Elias made it 3-1 when he stole a Jordan Leopold blind backhand pass and then beat Marc-Andre Fleury for a shorthanded goal. Another Pens' turnover that may as well have been from a bakery. Funny but moments earlier Fleury flat out robbed Travis Zajac with a sprawling glove save that even Chico Resch had to admit was great. Oh wait. He thinks every save is great. :P
The Elias shorty seemed to unnerve the Pens, who looked rattled. Turnover after turnover proceeded until Zach Parise netted team-leading No.33 by being allowed to swat in a rebound while Mark Eaton stood and watched. Not shockingly, it chased a furious Fleury, who MSG-Plus' cameras caught breaking slamming his goal stick against the wall.
Since when did Pittsburgh morph into the Rangers? Apparently, the sight of the Devils turns them into pumpkins. If this were a prize fight, it would've been stopped in Round Two. The play of the Penguins in this one is flat out embarrassing. It's like they've never played the game before. Pretty sad for a Sidney Crosby led team that's got an impressive resume, including two consecutive trips to the Finals, winning the franchise's third championship (first since '92) by dethroning Detroit.
Much of the credit goes to the Devils, who just look very focused with Paul Martin back on the blueline. He really has looked great and that bodes extremely well for Jacques Lemaire's club. The Devs are clicking on all cylinders, playing air tight D while pouncing on Pittsburgh mistakes. The score could very well be 8-1 after two periods. That's how dominant they've been. Brent Johnson came in and had to make two great stops from in tight, including a sparkling glove on Ilya Kovalchuk to keep the deficit at three. The Devs' fourth line continues to play well with Rod Pelley doing solid work. Remember when NJ fans were all over Rob Niedermayer? He's looked real good since key ingredient David Clarkson returned.
There's not one Devil you could say anything negative about. Thus far, it's like Manny Pacquiao's performance versus Joshua Clottey. While Marty's done the job again turning aside 15 of 16 (5-5 in 2nd), Fleury's ugly line which really wasn't his fault was four allowed on 13 shots. He's permitted three-or-more in all five starts with tonight's four raising his GAA to 4.52 and a dismal .838 save percentage. Yikes. In case you're wondering, Johnson made his only start on 12/30/09 acquitting himself well by stopping 31 of 32 in a 2-0 shutout loss. He also relieved Fleury in an ugly 12/21 4-0 loss, turning aside all 14 shots. Counting the two he stopped so far, that's quite a difference.
The big question becomes if Dan Bylsma's team sees the Devils in the second or third round, would he consider going with Johnson? It seems illogical. But based on how poorly the Pens have played in front of Fleury, it actually might be something he considers.