Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Flyers rip Devils, take commanding 3-1 series lead

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Wait, which team is the 2 seed and which team is the 7 seed in this Flyers/Devils series again? With the way the Flyers dominated the Devils in a 4-1 Game 4 victory, you couldn't convince anyone that the Devils finished with the second best record in the Eastern Conference while the Flyers sneaked into the playoffs on the very last day.

The story of the night for the Flyers was the contributions they got from to players who had yet to score in the playoffs as both Jeff Carter and Danny Briere finally lit the lamp. In fact, Carter scored twice in the game, both on the power play, and finally appeared to be healthy as he skated smoothly throughout the game. Also scoring for the Flyers was the Game 3 hero, Dan Carcillo, who once again looked like he had never scored a goal in his life after he beat Martin Brodeur with a shot through the 5 hole.

Given how many penalties they had, it was remarkable that the Flyers were in any position to win Game 4, let alone dominate it. For most of the first two periods, the Flyers sent player after player to the penalty box and gave the Devils power play chance after power play chance. In all, the Flyers had 16 penalty minutes on minors in the game and gave the Devils 8 power play chances. Luckily, the Flyers have a really good penalty kill and only allowed the Devils to score once on a 5 on 3 opportunity. I said it after the last game and I'll say it again: eventually, these penalties are going to catch up to the Flyers. Against an offensively challenged team like the Devils, the Flyers can get away with the march to the penalty box. If, and I mean if, the Flyers get past the Devils and play the Capitals in the next round, Washington's killer power play is going to destroy the Flyers if they take this many penalties. If the officials are going to continue calling the games so tight, the Flyers have to adjust.

As Game 4 progressed, the Flyers did seem to make some changes to their game while the Devils seemed to regress, taking a bunch of penalties in the third period as they fell apart. The usually consistent Martin Brodeur, who was making stellar stops all game long, also started to crumble in net, allowing uncharacteristically soft goals through. Whether the Flyers simply have their number or they really aren't that good, the Devils need to figure things out fast if they want to get back in this series.

Before anyone says this series is over, however, they must remember the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals. As you may recall, the Flyers had this same 3-1 lead with these same two goalies in net and seemed poised to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. Well, three Devils wins later and the Flyers collapsed their way out of the playoffs. While all signs point to the Flyers getting to the second round, let's just not start looking ahead just yet. Of course, if this same Devils team continues to not show up, the team that shouldn't even be in the playoffs will pull off quite an upset.

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