Friday, April 16, 2010

Devils even up series with late goal

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Well, at least the Flyers still have the home ice advantage. Despite playing better in Game 2 than they did in Game 1, the Flyers couldn't put away the Devils when they had the chance, losing when former Flyer Dainius Zubrus scored a goal late in the third period to give the Devils a 4-3 lead. An empty net goal later and the Flyers were sent back to Philadelphia with a 1-1 tie in the series.

The Devils managed to even things up by playing with a lot more energy in Game 2, jumping out to an early lead and setting the tempo for the game. While they did allow the Flyers right back into the game, the Devils were much more aggressive, out-shooting and out-hitting Philly throughout the night. Martin Brodeur also played better in net, making big stops in the third period to keep the Flyers off the scoreboard.

It's hard to point at any one reason why the Flyers lost Game 2. The Flyers didn't take advantage of the opportunities the Devils gave them, especially on the power play. Overall, Philly was a respectable 2 for 7 with the man advantage, but they really needed to capitalize when the Devils gave them three power play chances in a row early in the second period in a tie game. Scoring just once early in the second would have completely shifted the momentum.

One other negative for the Flyers was the Ryan Parent and Oskars Bartulis defensive pairing. While Philly really tried to minimize how much both were on the ice, they still played 12 minutes of pretty bad defense, all of which culminated with them being on the ice for the Devils game winning goal late in the third period. The Flyers have four really good defensemen that play the majority of the game but not having anyone they can trust in the third pairing really hurt them.

Everyone's favorite person to blame, Brian Boucher, didn't play great in net but he wasn't terrible, either. Of the 4 goals he let in, only 1 was really of the "soft" variety. No, Boucher didn't steal the game for the Flyers but he also didn't lose it for them, either. After an impressive showing in Game 1, Boucher was simply out-dueled by Brodeur in Game 2.

Even though it's tough to take anything positive from a loss, not everything went bad for the Flyers in Game 2. They generated more quality offense than they mustered in Game 1, more than doubling their number of shots from 14 to 29. Claude Giroux also continued his playoff magic as he looked like the most dynamic player on the ice for most of the night, finishing with a sweet assist and a tip-in goal. The Flyers also did a good job keeping out of the penalty box and only gave the Devils 3 power play chances.

Looking at the bigger picture, every Flyers fan should be happy with a 1-1 tie and the series shifting back to Philadelphia. The Flyers have proven already in this series that they can at least keep up with and often times play better than the Devils. If they can just get a few more opportunistic goals and tighten up the defense a bit, they will still be in great shape to take the series. As in every series that's tied at 1 apiece, Game 3 is going to be huge with the winner of the game poised to take all of the momentum in the series. I'm sure the Flyers fans will set the tone for what should be a great Game 3 atmosphere; it will be up to the team to set the tone on the ice.

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