Found May 01, 2012 on Buzz On Broad:

So far against the New Jersey Devils, the Flyers have put together a solid 60 minutes of hockey. The problem is, they're two games into this second round playoff series.

The Flyers came out with some serious jam in the first period on Tuesday night, putting 9 shots on goal, crashing the net and generally making life miserable for Martin Brodeur, who looked for most of the period like he was about to have a nervous breakdown and/or stab James van Riemsdyk. After escaping with the win in game 1 despite a miserable first period, it appeared that the Flyers had finally figured out that a hockey game does, in fact, consist of 3 periods, and that it's usually good to show up for all of them

And then the second period happened.

From the moment the puck dropped in the second, it was obvious that whatever jam had previously existed in this game was gone. It was so gone that there was almost negative jam, a tangible, empty void where the jam once was. The Flyers spent most of the period in their own zone and seemed content to just settle into a defensive shell and let Ilya Bryzgalov win them a 1-0 game. Because how could banking on a shutout from a goaltender with an .879 playoff SV% possibly be a bad idea?

Oh, and the Flyers registered two shots on goal. Two. That's pretty bad, but not as bad as the fact that the first of those two shots didn't come until 18:32 of the period.

Still, the Flyers came out of the period with the 1-0 lead intact, thanks in large part (the largest part) to Bryzgalov. "Hmm," we all thought. "They survived the onslaught in that period, Lavs will rip some hearts out of some chests and fire them up for the third, and we'll be on our way to a 2-0 series lead."

Not so.

If the second period was a trainwreck, the third period was all of the trains in the station just simultaneously exploding for no reason, with all the survivors cannibalizing one another in front of a backdrop of flames.

The Devils' Adam Larsson, only in the lineup because of Ilya Kovalchuk's lower back injury, finally got to Bryzgalov, tying the score at 1 on a drop pass play that seemingly transpired in slow motion, and things just unraveled from there. David Clarkson scored on a broken play (in which Zach Parise was somehow left alone in front of the net), slamming home the rebound and engaging in the rare "riding the net" goal celebration (up + left trigger in NHL12). Travis Zajac scored on a wraparound when Bryzgalov lost sight of the puck, two Flyers got caught pursuing one Devil behind the net, and Andreas Lilja and Danny Briere stood around wondering why Braydon Coburn wasn't on the ice for the first time all game. And Bryce Salvador scored the first goal of his entire NHL career (or something like that, according to the NBC broadcast crew), icing the already-pretty-well-iced game with a shorthanded, empty-net flip that somehow rolled right on into the net.

Boom. 4-1. The Devils even the series at one apiece, feeling pretty good about their ability to hang with the Flyers and hoping that Kovalchuk's back injury takes juuuust a few extra days to heal up.

Here's a few fun bullet points:

  • The Flyers power play, which went 12-for-23 (52%) against Pittsburgh, went 0-for-5 in game 2 against New Jersey and is now 1-for-11 (9%) in the series. The Devils had the league's best penalty kill during the regular season (89.6%), and they've carried that over into this series. I was unrealistic to think that the Flyers could maintain a 52% power play throughout the playoffs, but they'll have to do better than 9% if they want to advance any further
  • Bryzgalov looked very good in this game, and it was one of his better efforts to date in these playoffs, both statistically and otherwise. He looked poised for much of the game, turning aside 13 shots in the first period and 12 in the second before the Devils' nonstop attack and the Flyers' sloppy defensive coverage caught up to him in the third. He finished the game with 3 goals allowed on 34 shots, for a .912 SV%. Give me that from Bryzgalov every game, and I'll feel pretty good about this series.
  • A popular discussion topic before this series started (and after game 1, even) was whether or not the Devils and their no-name defense and geriatric goaltender could contain the Flyers' four-line attack. Another popular discussion topic was whether or not the Devils and their no-name offense could generate enough scoring to keep up with the Flyers' offense. Apparently, the answer is "yes," to both. I'd like to think this game is a speed bump for the Flyers, and that they'll still be able to make this a short series, but you have to wonder if the confidence boost New Jersey likely received from this type of win will carry over into the rest of the series.
  • The Flyers finished the game with 20 shots on goal, 7 of which came in the first 16:30 of play. That means over the final 43:30, they managed just 13 shots, or about one shot every three minutes.
  • Speaking of shots, Eric Wellwood led the team with 4 in 10:11 of ice time. We love us some Eric Wellwood, but when he's got as many shots as like 6 or 7 of your other forwards, combined, you're doing something wrong.
  • Claude Giroux has one point in this series. Yikes.

Here's the video recap, in case you missed it. Game 3 will be Thursday night at 7:30, in scenic Newark, New Jersey.

 

 

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