The Devils were coming off a loss to the lowly Panthers on Friday night, when their Atlantic Division rival, the Philadelphia Flyers came into town. The Flyers had been struggling lately with just two wins in their last eleven games. Amidst a coaching change and much turmoil going on in Philly, nothing has seemed to turn this team around. Would Saturday night be a turning point in this season for the Flyers?
In one simple word, no. On this night, unlike the other against Florida, Jersey came out flying. They made the game their own, controlling it from the onset. The Devils at this point have proven that they are an elite team in this league and when you are one of the better teams in the NHL, you dictate the game. When the Devils come out flat to begin a contest, they will fall behind, but possess the ability to get back into a game. However, when they put their best foot (or skate) forward, they will pull away from almost any team in this league.
That’s exactly what they did against the hapless Flyers on Saturday night. Before the Flyers even knew what hit them, the Devils went up 1-0. The rookie Niclas Bergfors got things started after he blazed into the Philly zone and then made a dazzling move on defenseman Braydon Coburn, putting the puck in between his legs, then ripping the puck past Brian Boucher on a five-hole power play goal (2:33 into the first). Bergfors would continue his first period onslaught by crashing the net and knocking a rebound from Boucher home and just like that Jersey had their rival down two goals (23:31 into the first). Now, the goal may have been a rebound, crash the net kind of goal, but it all happened because of Bergfors defensive play. Scott Hartnell tried to clear the puck out of the zone, but Bergfors ties him up, lifting up Hartnells stick, keeping it in Philly’s end. After Hartnell turned the puck over, Zach Parise picked it off and passed it across ice to Travis Zajac who shot it at Boucher and that’s where Bergfors got the rebound goal. This was the Devils second power play goal of the night (keep taking penalties Philly). If consecutive first period, power play goals were not enough, the Devils decided to hit a milestone mark in the period as well. The next goal came off of Patrik Elias’ stick on a Vladimir Zharkov pass and it was his 300th career goal, all of them coming in a New Jersey uniform (15:47 into the first).
Now this is what I am talking about. I know the Devils cannot be up 3-0 at the end of every first period, but you know they can do it, leaving all Devil fans feeling confident going into any game. The story line heading into the second period, as it will be with every game from here on out when the Devils have that “0” on the board, was about Marty holding the shutout. Well, it was not meant to be, not on this night. Although the Devils continued to be the better team in the second period, Claude Giroux managed to squeak a goal past Brodeur after entering the Jersey zone and shooting a wrist shot that bounched off of his blocker and in (15:03 into the second). So, no shutout tonight, but Marty cares about wins a whole lot more than milestones and adding another goal before the night was over would solidify just that. How about before the period even ends? Sure, that sounds great. Mr. 300 himself, Patrik Elias, put the fourth and final goal of the night for Jersey past Boucher on a two on one tape to tape pass from Brian Rolston.
Tonight’s victory was a dominant one and it made the Devils 7-0-1 in the second game of back to back’s, which tells you these guys are in great condition to be able to do that. The Flyers struggles continue, which I love to see, the more separation we can get between ourselves and the other teams in the Atlantic, the better. Next up for the Devils will be the Canadiens of Montreal and you can bet your bank account that Marty will be playing in that one.
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