Pregame Skate: Devils, Flyers set for Game 2, need goalies to step up games
The lone game Tuesday comes to us from Philadelphia where the Devils are hoping for a road split to start the series. Which goaltender is going to have an impact on the positive side?
7:30 ET, New Jersey at Philadelphia, Game 2 (NBC Sports Network)
Presumably, the rust is all gone, stripped off the Flyers after a very sluggish opening period of the series on Sunday afternoon. Because after the Devils controlled play in the opening frame, it was mostly all Flyers from there on out.
It became another chapter in the stories of playoff stars Danny Briere and James van Riemsdyk, two players who always seem to bring their best this time of year. Add in Jakub Voracek and you have one effective line, at least in Game 1.
The Devils are going to need some line to match that kind of production, a likely candidate would be Ilya Kovalchuk's, but is he healthy enough? That's the question that doesn't appear to have an answer forthcoming, at least from the team or him.
But like any series, it eventually comes back to the pipes. The skaters can play a great game but if the goalie is subpar, it could spoil the party.
One goaltender is the second-highest paid in the league. The other is one of, if not the all-time best goaltenders the NHL has seen. So why is it that neither feels trustworthy in this series?
As you have heard time and time again in the last year, the Flyers blew up their roster to bring in Ilya Bryzgalov, the goalie who was supposed to be the answer to their struggles between the pipes. They put a massive down payment on their Stanley Cup hopes with a nine-year contract paying him an average of $5.67 million per season.
For that price a .900 save percentage is the bare minimum of expectations. The Flyers would love to get that from Bryzgalov at the moment. They would just take some tightening up of the five hole for starters. That's where Petr Sykora went late in the third period to send the game to an eventual overtime finish in Game 1, not the best goal you'll ever see a goaltender give up.
Martin Brodeur on the other end was up to the task of competing with Bryzgalov in Game 1. Yes, when he was in the net he was making some nice saves and did a good job of mostly keeping the Flyers at bay. Not many were going to do anything with the one-timer from Claude Giroux on the power play in the third period.
But for a guy who essentially had a rule made because of his puck-handling ability, he was not up to snuff when handling the puck.
You might expect a rookie goaltender to try and clear the puck from behind the goal line up the center of the defensive zone, but Brodeur, probably the best stick-handling goalie of all time (or Ron Hextall)? No, you don't expect that. And it wasn't even his first really bad misplay that led to a goal this postseason. He was also burned in the first round by venturing behind the net and the trapezoid.
Of course, Bryzgalov has been no model of goaltender stickhandling either. He misplayed more than a couple of pucks in Game 1, luckily for him it didn't bite him back, even if it was close.
The goaltenders are going to have to start playing better all-around or risk having a big impact on this series, not in the way a goalie is wont to do this time of year.
We'll see who is up to the task in Game 2.
- Best of Monday
- The Hurricanes are going to target a front-line winger this offseason and have their sightson one Zach Parise. Join the club. (News & Observer)
- Signs Phoenix is embracing hockey a little more? Coyotes conversations in the checkout line. (Arizona Sports)
- Not really surprising here, but the owner of the Senators really wants Daniel Alfredsson to return. (Ottawa Sun)
- The Florida Panthers were the most recent team to have their clean-out day. (Sun-Sentinel)
- Lastly, this didn't make the Best Of last night, but what a hit from T.J. Oshie on Dustin Penner.
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