Because there was only one game Tuesday and it wasn’t all that close, I’ve decided to change the format of my daily listing of those players that stood out on the ice. I still plan to highlight a few men that shined, but I’ll also look at what exactly went wrong for the other unit as my third and final point.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that it’s more like two stars and a dud — I just preferred keeping the title the same as every other day to avoid confusion.
New Jersey Devils 4, Philadelphia Flyers 1 (Series is TIED, 1-1)
Those Who Shined
1. New Faces Producing for the Devils
When you’re a six-seeded club looking to steal a crucial away game in the rough environment of the Wells Fargo Center, something unexpected typically has to happen. On this day, New Jersey found themselves in a one goal hole heading into the final frame — facing a difficult 2-0 series deficit — and four fresh faces leaped to the rescue. David Clarkson, Adam Larsson, Bryce Salvador and Travis Zajac tallied goals in the third period rally from the Devils that helped them knot things up with the Flyers. For Clarkson, Larsson and Salvador, this was the first goal that they had scored in the entirety of the postseason — not to mention first of the season for Salvador. And, Zajak lit the lamp for the fifth time in the series after recording just six points during the regular season. New Jersey obviously can’t expect this in game three, but I’m sure they’ll take it for now.
2. New Jersey’s ‘D’ Was On Its Game
After falling behind by a goal in the opening period, the Devils defense turned up their intensity on a Philadelphia offense that had been unstoppable in the postseason. New Jersey held the Flyers to just 20 shots and forced them into an 0-for-5 night on the power play, which were each the lowest numbers in their eight contests — they had scored at least one PP goal in all other games. And, when Philadelphia did put a snipe on net, veteran Martin Brodeur was there to make a save. In fact, he sent away 19 of the 20 shots, giving him a save percentage of 95 percent. It’s hard to say if this can continue (my instincts tell me no way), but certainly tip your cap to the Devils defense on this night.
1. Ilya Bryzgalov, Goaltender, Philadelphia Flyers
So, let’s just be honest; the Flyers have done the majority of their winning because of the performance on the offensive end of the ice. That’s just a fact. Ilya Bryzgalov had one impressive start in six matchups with Pittsburgh, and he wasn’t all that great in game one with New Jersey. But, on Tuesday night is seemed as if he was prepared to make a defensive statement. I mean, over two periods he saved all 25 shots that he faced and he was 20 minutes from his first shutout since March 13th (also against the Devils ironically). And then, it all went downhill. Bryzgalov surrendered three of the four goals on just nine shots (about a 66 SV %) in the final period, which was a total collapse for Philadelphia. Now, I know it isn’t all his fault; but, c’mon man! Obviously, this was a massive letdown and it gives the Devils the upper hand if they can win on their home ice.