Brick City Breakdown: New Jersey Devils 6, Philadelphia Flyers 4, F.


What. A. Game. Those two and a half hours were a rollercoaster of emotions. The Devils get out to a 3-0 lead, let the Flyers tie it in the blink of an eye, re-take the lead, give it back, take it back again and then finally seal it with an empty netter. It was absolutely crazy, but hey, two points are two points. The Devils scored six goals in one game and that’s amazing. The four goals given up is concerning, but that’s not going to be a regular thing. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a nice way to open up the season in enemy territory.

Big, Early Lead

The Devils started the game very conservatively, not getting a shot until the halfway point of the first period. Then they turned it on and got a goal before the period ended. Michael Ryder received a pass in oodles of space from Ryane Clowe and sniped a wrister past Steve Mason’s glove. It was the beginning of a three point (two assist) night for Ryder and the Devils needed it. Ryder was dynamite last season in the first half of the season, but then tailed off in the second half. The Devils need Ryder to be a contributor on the offensive end each and every night. The second period started with the Devils not sitting on a lead and actually adding to it. Ryder pounced on a Vinny Lecavalier turnover and dished it to Adam Henrique who beat Mason far side. Three minutes later, new addition Mike Cammalleri got his first as a Devil. Jaromir Jagr lugged through the neutral zone and pulled up just inside the blue line. He spun around and let a shot go that Cammy skillfully deflected between his legs and buried it top-shelf. The Devils were up 3-0…

Worst Lead in Hockey, Eh?

The old adage is that 3-0 is the worst lead in hockey. Can’t argue that tonight. The Devils did their best to throw the game away and let Philly right back in it. Thanks to some shoddy defense and stupid penalties, the Devils managed to concede three goals in the final 4:16 of the second period. I literally mean the final 4:16 as the third goal crossed the goal line with under a second left in the frame. It was everything that was wrong with last season wrapped up in five minutes of garbage. I couldn’t believe what I just saw.

Czech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

After giving up three goals to end the second, the Devils could have came out in the third and fell down even more. That wasn’t the case. Four minutes into the final period, three of the Devils’ Czech-born players would combine for one of the prettiest goals you’ll see. Marty Havlat dropped a touch pass between his legs and a defender to Marek Zidlicky who flew in from the point. Zid gathered the puck below the right faceoff circle and threw a pass across the crease to Patrik Elias who had the pleasure of guiding the puck into a virtually empty net. It was pure bliss. Czech to Czech to Czech.

Not So Fast

More from Pucks and Pitchforks

The Devils decided that they wanted to blow another lead tonight so that’s what they did. Captain Bryce Salvador made one of the worst plays in his career. It was reminiscent of the Anze Kopitar overtime goal in Game 1 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals. Yes, it was that bad. Sal stepped up on Wayne Simmonds after Simmonds passed the puck to Lecavalier at center ice. That just lead to a two-on-one where Vinny did not miss. The goal came a mere 15 seconds after the Elias marker and any feelings of joy were immediately wiped away. Salvador playing over Adam Larsson was a crime, an absolute crime.

This Isn’t Last Year

Last season the Devils would blow the lead (usually in the final minute or two), go to overtime and then eventually lose in a shootout. Maybe this year will be different. The Devils would answer the Lecavalier tally within three minutes when Dainius Zubrus took a beautiful feed from Henrique and beat Mason blocker-side. The Devils would go on and play a solid end to the game and ice it with a minute left when Cammalleri buried his second of the night into the empty net.

Penalty Kill Problems

The one noticeable deficiency of the night came when the Devils were down a man. They gave up a pair of power play goals in that second period meltdown and could have probably given up another. Why? The most obvious reason was that Marek Zidlicky was getting PK time over Damon Severson. Severson played an outstanding game in his NHL debut and for some reason, Peter DeBoer elected to go with the purely offensive defenseman on the PK. It was a terrible decision and it showed. When the Devils had to kill a penalty in the third, guess who replaced Zidlicky… Severson. It was a coaching failure that could have cost the Devils a game they easily should have won.

A Win is a Win

Long story short, the Devils came away from Philadelphia with a pair of huge points. They look to build on that Saturday in Florida against the Panthers. Stay tuned to Pucks and Pitchforks all season for Brick City Breakdown recaps and all your Devils’ news.