The Rangers and Capitals played an exciting game last night at the Verizon Center. Both teams played three overtimes in what was wide-open hockey that featured many shots to the goaltender. This is what one expects in a playoff hockey game.
The only bad part about this game is the Rangers came out as winners in their 2-1 victory over the Capitals in three overtimes. This also gives them a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinal series.
It will be shocking if tonight’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series between the Rangers and Flyers matches up to last night’s game. First of all, it’s hard to do. Second of all, the Devils play the dreaded neutral zone trap that puts anyone to sleep.
The Devils won Game 2 thanks to their gimmick they pulled out in the second period where they were clutching and grabbing the Flyers to submission.
It worked out well, and the Flyers were worn down as the third period went on. The Devils scored four unanswered goals in the third period as they even the series up at one.
What the Devils did was disgusting. This has nothing to do with sour grapes about the Flyers losing. This is about making the sport presentable and exciting. Sorry, but no one goes to the games or watch hockey to watch teams not generate scoring. No one wants to watch the other team skate around. This is not how to promote the game.
This writer used to be a huge hockey fan growing up as a kid. He fell in love with the odd-man rush and two-on-one breakaway often in the hockey game. Then, Devils hired Jacques Lemaire as coach, and he did everything to ruin hockey by instituting the trap. It helped the Devils overachieve in 1994, and the franchise took off after that year by making many playoff appearances with three Stanley Cups to show for it.
No one can question the results, but it’s not a good way to sell the sport. Ratings and attendance plummeted thanks to other teams copying what the Devils did in trapping. Coaches are in the business of winning games for them to stay on, so they have no choice to copy what the Devils did.
It’s rare teams play the trap nowadays. Coaches have a different philosophy as they focus on forechecking. Players are faster, smarter and better scorers. That’s a great thing, and it’s why hockey is exciting now than it was years ago.
One would think Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello would follow the lead of other teams, but he remains stuck in the Stone Age. He feels the trap is beneficial to his team. It wins games, but it does not win playoff games anymore as based on the Devils being 1 and out the last few years prior to winning their first round matchup against the Panthers last week.
Thankfully, the Flyers don’t play that style. It would be hard to watch them if they play it. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette likes to forecheck and use his forwards often to score. It worked out well. The Flyers have a chance to win thanks to their system.
Let’s hope Laviolette has some tricks to stop this gimmick the Devils pulled out Tuesday night. One has to think it will happen. He always makes adjustments after games, and he will find a way to put guys like Daniel Briere, Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and James Van Riemsdyk in a position to succeed. He has figured out how to stop the Devils’ play. This won’t go on forever.
Let’s hope the Flyers be the team that prevents the Devils from going further in the playoffs. There’s no question hockey fans want to see that happen. No one is interested in watching a team take the joy out of the sport.
Devils fans can enjoy it all they want. That’s fine, but majority don’t like It. You know NBC doesn’t want to see the Devils being that they are a ratings kill. The NHL is in the business of promoting the sport, so they don’t want that team, either.
The Flyers are playing not only for themselves, but they are playing to save the sport.
This is why it’s important for the Flyers to get this game in tonight. Not only do they need the win tonight, but they need to send a message to the Devils that the trap does not work.
The sport is relying on the Flyers to make it happen.