Blog Entry

No defense for Devils collapse

Posted on: April 22, 2010 11:22 pm
You might say the New Jersey Devils have jumped the Sharks or at least become the Eastern Conference version of the NHL’s most disillusioning team.

So while San Jose still has a chance to move on, the Devils are going on vacation after losing 3-0 to the Philadelphia Flyers and bowing out of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in five games. It’s New Jersey’s third consecutive failure to get past the first round and the second year in a row the Devils have lost after entering as the Atlantic Division champs.

“A lot of good things happened this season, but we’re paid to play in the playoffs and to have success,” said goalie Martin Brodeur. “That’s what people remember but now it’s three years in a row that we haven’t accomplished nothing.”

There were reasons for it this time including the fact that Philadelphia had dominated the season series between these two long time rivals, winning five of the six games. And New Jersey was an uneven team at best down the stretch winning only 18 of its final 41 games while not being particularly sharp on offense despite the addition of sniper Ilya Kovalchuk in January.

Kovalchuk was supposed to be the missing piece on a team that already had high-scoring Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Patrik Elias in the lineup but has always been known for its defense. It didn’t turn out that way both in the regular season and in particular in these playoffs in large part because the Flyers limited Kovalchuk to just two goals. New Jersey though, didn’t get much production from anyone else either losing the final three games by a combined 10-2.

“We thought we could do a lot of good things with this team, but for whatever reason we didn’t put it together,” Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner said.

Give the Flyers, who needed a shootout win on the final day of the regular season just to get into the playoffs, a lot of credit. Philadelphia was grittier, more aggressive and ultimately too much for a group of New Jersey defensemen that were surprisingly overmatched for a team coached by Jacques Lemaire and had allowed the fewest goals in the league this season. The Flyers never let the Devils find any rhythm and ultimately were just more determined, finishing things off on the road despite having top six forwards Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne out with injuries.

But the other Flyers forwards most notably youngster Claude Giroux and captain Mike Richards picked up the slack in the finale, and whenever the Devils looked like they were about to get something going, Philadelphia goalie Brian Boucher was there to frustrate them.

And certainly it was sweet revenge for the much-maligned veteran netminder, who was in goal when the Flyers blew a 3-1 series lead to the Devils in 2000 and was considered to be Philadelphia’s Achilles Heel in this one.

Instead, he was the hero on a team that has the roster makeup and apparently now the groove to go a long way. Like the Devils thought they would.

“There’s not 10 ways to play in the playoffs, there’s one way and that’s the way you got to play otherwise you have no chance to win,” Lemaire said. “We did not play playoff hockey.”
Category: NHL

Since: Feb 3, 2007
Posted on: April 23, 2010 4:12 pm

No defense for Devils collapse

As a penguin fan you have no reason to comment on this story. Good luck closing out that "inferior" team you drew. As a Flyers fan we'll knock out the 2 seed for you.

Go find a message board dedicated to tossing crosby's salad and let the rest of us watch hockey.

Since: Oct 31, 2006
Posted on: April 23, 2010 1:34 pm

No defense for Devils collapse

I agree with Hpterpland -- there's no way the Devils should've used Brodeur as often as they did, not at age 37. Not that he was the reason they lost the series. They lost because Lemaire is hanging on to an antiquated system and Laviolette had his team much more prepared. I mean, looking at the entire series, unless they were on the PP, the Devils never really sustained any offensive pressure on a consistent basis.

Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: April 23, 2010 12:53 pm

No defense for Devils collapse

  I think there is some merit to your point about goalies who play most every game but I don't think that is the issue in either the Devils or Sabres series.
  Brodeur played two games in the Olympics. I'm actually glad Canada went with Luongo because that gave Brodeur some needed rest, whether he agreed with it or not. He's had the same workload for years including the 3 cups they won but now he's older and should get more games off.
  The Devils couldn't score and their defensemen were horrendous. I can't hang this series loss on Brodeur.
  I've watched most of the Sabres-Bruins series. That overtime game the other night was tremendous hockey. Miller made several remarkable saves. Can't fault him for Satan's OT winner nor the other losses in the series. Rask is a pretty good goalie we'll be seeing for years to come.

Since: Nov 22, 2007
Posted on: April 23, 2010 12:50 pm

No defense for Devils collapse

I can't say I follow the Devils a whole lot, but does Kovalchuk as a UFA have a compelling reason to stay?  This is not a great team, he hasn't been there long and has the option to start fresh with a good team that can afford him - granted there are probably not that many of those.  Brodeur I'm sure has some flashes left but he can't hold this team up like he used to and he always did that, especially for the greatest Devils teams.  Kovalchuk left Atlanta for a contender, presumably, so are the Devils really that contender? 

Though I hope this doesn't happen, somehow I see him going to the Rangers, where talented veterens not named Mark Messier go to roll around in money and start their pre-retirement.

Since: Jan 25, 2010
Posted on: April 23, 2010 12:39 pm

No defense for Devils collapse

There is a very clear reason for NJ performance.  It is same for Sabres and somewhat for SJ as well.  Each has a goalie with 40 or so wins and with them playing approximately 65-70 games.  Even Pens with MAF clearly the starter Johnosn starts 20 games.  These guys need some rest.  All of those wins mean nothing.  Shutouts during season mean nothing.  Being exhausted by playoff time is critical.  Brodeur nor Miller should have participated in Olympics or should have played only 50% of games following Olympics.  All teams would have made playoffs regardless. 

Totally Coach responsibility.  He must ignore the goalie wish to play every game.  Hasek as starter with Buffalo had same problem.  WIth Detroit he didnt start all games he shared with Osgood.  He won 2 Stanley cups.

Since: Nov 12, 2006
Posted on: April 23, 2010 11:53 am

No defense for Devils collapse

  Devils absolutely need to get at least one puck handling defenseman like a Niedermeyer or Rafalski this offseason. Their defensemen were atrocious this series. They couldn't get shots thru and couldn't handle the Flyers forecheck. Skoula might as well have been wearing a Flyers jersey.
  I would like them to resign Kovalchuk since they gave up alot to get him. If it doesn't seem like it is working out come next year then they can trade him and get some value back.
  New coach with a new philosophy would be nice. Lemaire's style was good back in the day but not so good with today's rules and more wide open play.

Since: Dec 23, 2009
Posted on: April 23, 2010 11:45 am

Bodies dropping

Did you notice the team effort Philly put to blocking the Devils shots?  Ian Laperriere took one in the face (OUCH!) and I think this happened to him before during the season as well!  After he left the game, literally everyone was diving to the ice to block the Devils' shots!  Wow.

If the Flyers continue this effort against (probably) the Capitals, Philly really has a good shot to get to the Eastern finals.  GEAUX FLYERS!!!

Since: Oct 8, 2006
Posted on: April 23, 2010 10:39 am

No defense for Devils collapse

Since: Feb 8, 2010
Posted on: April 23, 2010 9:22 am

No defense for Devils collapse

IF Kovy said we were gonna lose then we'd have big problems. IM okay with the win prediction. WE need to get younger and better on D. hopefully some magic will help this offseason. 

Since: May 25, 2007
Posted on: April 23, 2010 8:31 am

No defense for Devils collapse

I'm sure you have been worried that your team would run into the Devils the whole three years you've been a hockey fan. What a fool.

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