Round two of the Stanley Cups Playoffs has started, and the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers begin their series today.
The Devils appeared in the playoffs 14 times in the last 15 seasons. They missed last year after they started the regular season dreadfully, made a miracle run, but just came up short.
The Devils were the six seed going into the playoffs this year and were favored to defeat the three seated Florida Panthers.
The Devils led all of the NHL in powerplay kills during the regular season, killing 89.6%. Their powerplay in the playoffs so far, however, was shaky. They gave up nine goals against the Panthers and need to work on their PP kill against the Flyers.
The Devils during the regular season were the only team with three 30 goal scorers. Ilya Kovalchuk led the team with 37 followed by Captain Zach Parise with 31 and David Clarkson with 30. Two players also had 20+ goals in Patrik Elias (26) and Petr Sykora (21).
So far in the playoffs Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac are leading the Devils with three goals each, and Parise, Elias, Steve Bernier, Stephen Gionta, and the rookie Adam Henrique each have two goals a piece. Both goals for Henrique came in game seven, the second was the game winner in double overtime.
Martin Brodeur had an up-and-down series against the Panthers and was pulled from game three after giving up three quick goals. After that game he seemed unstoppable. He shut the Panthers out in game four for his record breaking 24th career playoff shut out, and was rock solid in game seven to help the Devils move on to the second round.
Brodeur was 1-3 vs. the Flyers in the regular season.
Claude Giroux was an MVP for the Flyers throughout the regular season. He was third in the NHL with 93 points, and has not slowed down in the playoffs. He scored six goals, provided eight assists, and collected 14 points against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Danny Briere has also been a great asset for the Flyers scoring five goals. He also has 104 career postseason points. Max Talbot and the rookie Sean Couturier have three goals each.
Despite being an offensive force against the Penguins, they struggled a lot defensively. They allowed 26 goals. 10 goals were given up in game four alone. 21 were given up by Flyers starting goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
Bryzgalov had an up-and-down regular season, but had a good series against the Devils. He went 3-0, and two of his six regular season shut outs were against New Jersey.
The Flyers barley won the series against the Devils in the regular season, posting a 3-2-1 record, and only outscored New Jersey 18-15.
Expect Giroux and Kovalchuk to be the stars of this series. Giroux had four goals and three assists against the Devils this year, but Kovalchuk answered with two goals and six assists against Philly.
It’s going to be an offensive battle between the two teams this series and will be an exciting one.
My prediction: Devils in seven.