Parent in Game 2 lineup
4.16.2010 / 1:05 p.m. ET
Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette will have third-year defenseman Ryan Parent in the lineup on Friday for Game 2 of their best-of-7 series with the New Jersey Devils at PrudentialCenter.
Parent will be making his first appearance in this series and his 11th in the Stanley Cup Playoffs overall. Parent made his Playoff debut in 2008 to help the Flyers reach the Eastern Conference Final against Pittsburgh.
Laviolette didn't tip his hand as to who Parent would replace in the lineup following his team's morning skate on Friday. The Philadelphia media on hand seem to think that 27-year-old defenseman Lukas Krajicek will be the odd man out for Game 2. Parent could also replace Oskars Bartulis, although the rookie defender wasn't told of any change following the Flyers' skate. Bartulis took a four-minute double minor penalty for high sticking in Game 1 early in the third period.
The 23-year-old native of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, played in 20 of the Flyers' final 22 games after having a herniated disk removed from his back in January.
-- Mike G. Morreale
04.15.2010 / 8:04 p.m. (ET)
The Devils and Flyers went through a brisk workout this afternoon in preparation for Game 2 at Prudential Center on Friday at 7:30 p.m. (ET).
The Flyers took the ice at 1 p.m. and the Devils at 3 p.m. Flyers goalie Brian Boucher and defenseman Chris Pronger did not skate with the team Thursday for some well-earned rest. Pronger, if you haven't already heard, logged 30:01 of ice time and had 3 blocked shots in Game 1. For the Devils, wing Andrew Peters, who suffered an eye injury in a fight with the Rangers' Jody Shelley on March 25, practiced with the full team for the first time since that incident.
The media had their time with the boys after each respective session, as is customary. Here are a couple features off those rap sessions:
Devils coach Jacques Lemaire looks for his power-play to keep it simple
The Devils top PP unit during Thursday's practice was Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, Jamie Langenbrunner, Ilya Kovalchuk (at point) and Paul Martin (at point).
Flyers rookie LW James van Riemsdyk enjoys atmosphere of Cup Playoffs
Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who allowed two goals on 14 shots in the series opener on Wednesday, was asked if he heard the booing from the fans in the third period.
"It goes with the expectations," Brodeur said. "They'll be pretty patient but we have to do some things that will allow them appreciate our effort. What we're doing on the ice is important."
Devils alternate captain Patrik Elias feels New Jersey has gotten over the Game 1 setback.
"I think (getting over a loss) depends on how you play and the way you lose it," Elias said. "I thought we played well for 40 minutes. The first 10 minutes of the second we kind of lost that momentum and didn't initiate. But then in the third, one line after another, we had opportunities."
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette did say after the game that his team's play in the second period proved to be a turning point. Despite the fact the Flyers entered the series as the seventh seed and the Devils, second, Flyers forward Blair Betts said the team doesn't feel like underdogs.
"We don't feel like there's pressure," Betts said. "We'd like to have home-ice advantage and I guess with the win we do now, but I think anytime you can relieve some of the pressure, relax and be calm (on the road), go out there and play, it's definitely a bonus."
"It's huge to get that Game 1 but we not have to focus on the next game and not worry about the series," Flyers captain Mike Richards said. "They are going to come out even harder on Friday; we have to do a better job of responding to that."
--Mike G. Morreale
Kovy's birthday; reaction to Anderson firing
04.15.2010 / 7:04 p.m. (ET)
Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk might score a goal at some point in this best-of-7 series with the Flyers, but he won't score on his birthday.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Russian turned 27 on Thursday. His birthday wish -- a Game 2 victory of course.
I asked Kovalchuk about his former coach in Atlanta, John Anderson. Anderson was released by the Thrashers on Wednesday, along with assistant coaches Randy Cunneyworth, Todd Nelson and Steve Weeks. Kovalchuk played under Anderson for a season-and-a-half before being dealt to the Devils in February.
"He's a good coach and was a great player -- he scored almost 300 NHL goals (282) -- but it was tough adjustment for him from the American Hockey League when he was coaching Chicago," Kovalchuk told me. "They had a great team with a lot of veteran guys and we got little different. Maybe he should be tougher on some young guys, but I'm sure he'll be somewhere else really soon because he knows what he's doing."
Devils defenseman Anssi Salmela, who also came over in the Kovalchuk deal, agrees.
"He was a players' coach," Salmela said of Anderson. "Different players need different styles. Some players feel pressure and young players need that pressure. But they came around in the end of the season. He'll coach somewhere, don't see why he couldn't."
--Mike G. Morreale
Little things mean a lot
04.15.2010 / 10:25 a.m. (ET)
For years, it always seemed the Devils had the Flyers number. And it wasn't just in the regular season but the postseason.
What Flyer fan wouldn't forget Claude Lemieux's long-distant blue-line rocket that beat Ron Hextall blocker side to silence the Spectrum and give New Jersey a 3-2 series lead in 1995 on the way to a six-game extermination. Yeah, the Devils would win the Cup that year too.
It would happen again in 2000, when a young Brian Boucher was between the pipes for the Flyers. To add insult to injury, the Devils would post one of the greatest comebacks in a conference final when Patrik Elias scored his second of the game with 2:32 left in regulation of Game 7 in Philly. It was a series the Flyers led, 3-1. That seventh game was also the infamous 'hit' that eventual Conn Smythe Trophy-winning defenseman Scott Stevens would put on Eric Lindros.
Let's face it, the Devils had the Cheesestakes right where they wanted them.
But, very quietly, the Flyers eliminated the Devils in the conference quarterfinal round in 2004 in five quick games. Quiet because the Flyers would eventually be eliminated by the new kids on the block that year, the Tampa Bay Lightning, in seven game in the conference final. The Lightning would celebrate the Cup that season.
But the Flyers have had the Devils number this year -- winning five of the six matchups in the regular season and now, Game 1 of their best-of-7 quarterfinal round series. Is it too ridiculous to think that, after just one game in this series, the winning mystique New Jersey had commanded over Philadelphia for so long is fading?
Trouble is, I can't put my finger on what it might be. Maybe it's just what a few of the Flyers' players told me following practice on Wednesday. They get up for these games against the Devils; they know what they're up against and they know what's coming.
The question is, how? The Devils added one dynamic forward prior to the trade deadline in Ilya Kovalchuk and a pretty good defensive-defenseman in Martin Skoula. But it seems as though lady-luck has been with the Flyers this season when New Jersey happens to be the opposition. Just as lady-luck was with the Devils against the Penguins in the regular season -- New Jersey won all six games.
How do I know this? Well, when was the last time a Flyers defenseman was parked right in front of Martin Brodeur and actually tipped home a shot that deflected off the Devils' goalie into the net. This wasn't no ordinary defenseman either -- it was hulking Chris Pronger.
Then, Ian Laperriere does his best Ice Capades' impression on the way to dishing a behind-the-back pass to Mike Richards on the opposite wing. In 1995 or 2000, that play would have probably resulted in a quick transition and goal in the other direction. But Richards caught up to the pass and absolutely destroyed the puck to beat Brodeur on the long side.
The Devils can certainly turn this series around, however. For starters, the power-play needs to get better. The fact the team finished 0-for-5 with the man advantage on Wednesday in a 2-1 Game 1 loss won't sit well with anyone in the New Jersey locker room. I expect an even more determined team for Game 2. But the Flyers aren't just going to throw out the white flags, either.
Truth is, little things add up. And the little things have certainly been going in the Flyers favor against the Devils this season. Let's see if it continues in this series.
--Mike G. Morreale
Pandolfo playoff streak to end; Tough Devils
04.14.2010 / 6:31 p.m. (ET)
Devils left wing Jay Pandolfo will see his streak of 123 consecutive playoff games come to a end on Wednesday when New Jersey plays host to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Pandolfo, a member of New Jersey's 2000 and '03 Stanley Cup teams, and Andrew Peters, Vladimir Zharkov and Anssi Salmela didn't participate with the full team at the morning skate but came out later prior to the Flyers taking the ice for their turn.
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond and Matt Corrente, who was skating at forward, were on the ice with the full team. Devils coach Jacques Lemaire was asked about Pandolfo.
"What we will do every morning skate is we will have 13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders and the guys that will play will be among that group,"s Lemaire said. "The other guys, because it's really hard to go in practice with five lines and more, it's hard to get the guys a good rhythm and get some momentum in practices. This is the reason why we did this."
It's rather obvious Lemaire is hoping to add some toughness to the lineup against the always physical Flyers. In fact, when asked if his team has the muscle to neutralize the Flyers, Lemaire didn't hesitate.
"Definitely," he said. "You know what we have in this room. We have good character and guys who battle when they have to battle. We have scorers and good defensive players and we have tough guys."
--Mike G. Morreale
Devils/Flyers Fan fests are set
04.14.2010 / 3:54 p.m. (ET)
The Devils and Flyers are offering their fans a chance to get together and root on their teams this week.
For Games 1 and 2 of the best-of-7 series between the Atlantic Division rivals, the Devils will hold a pre-game Fan Fest in Championship Plaza beginning two and a half hours before the games.
The celebrations will include a two-story beer garden, appearances by the N.J. Devil team mascot and the Devils Dancers, as well as an outdoor synthetic ice rink with free skate rental. The Devils will also be giving Devils' Army t-shirts to all fans in attendance on Wednesday, courtesy of Holy Name Medical Center. Fans attending Friday's Game 2 will receive Red Alert rally towels courtesy Panasonic.
In fact, Devils Chairman and Managing Partner Jeff Vanderbeek will handing out playoff t-shirts at Newark Penn Station at 6 p.m. prior to Game 1. So get there early!
Meanwhile, diehard Flyers fans gathering at Kildare's in Manayunk at 7:30 p.m. (ET) will be able to watch Game 1 on 15 of Kildare's 40" plasma televisions -- easily viewed throughout the bar. There will also be raffles to win autographed prizes and pick up great giveaways including t-shirts, thunder sticks, cheer cards and more. On Friday, Flyers Alumni will serve Stanley CUPcakes from a cupcake truck at various locations around the City. Locations will be posted at www.philadelphiaflyers.com.
--Mike G. Morreale
Gearing up for Game 1
04.14.2010 / 3:25 p.m. (ET)
So what did we learn at the morning skate for both teams in preparation for tonight's Game 1 showdown between the Flyers and Devils in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Round series?
Well, not much. Although I do know Chris Pronger will play a major part in anything the Devils attempt to do.
For starters, Devils coach Jacques Lemaire was playing musical linemates during the skate so it became impossible to gauge what he was thinking and what matchups he'd prefer to have on the ice with the last line change as the host team for the opening two games of this series.
"All the games we played against them, I don't think there was a lot of matchups that we didn't like on both sides,” Lemaire said. "Maybe I'm wrong there, but it looks like he didn't mind to play his top players against mine and I don't mind to play our top players against his. Matchups are tough when you only have one line and you might have one or two lines that really can't play against certain players. Then, you've got to hold your players to find the right time to send them on. But neither are a problem because our teams are balanced."
I asked Flyers coach Peter Laviolette which defensive pair -- Chris Pronger and Matt Carle or Kimmo Timonen and Lukas Krajicek -- would he prefer against Zach Parise's line and Ilya Kovalchuk's unit.
His response: "There's matchups that we're trying to get." Oh well, I tried.
Laviolette did elaborate when asked if he is committed to matching certain lines that the Devils throw on the ice.
"It's obvious we'll look to do things defensively," Laviolette said. "From a forwards' point of view, I'm more concerned about attack. You get the pair of defensemen and you kind of monitor that and watch that. Maybe if there's a line combination we're looking for, we'll try to get that. If we don't get it on the road, I don't like to juggle. I don't like to send guys on, send guys off, disrupt shifts. We try to lock it down and match it the best we can."
What do I think?
How about this:
Devils 1-Parise, Zajac, Langenbrunner. 2-Kovalchuk, Elias, Zubrus.
Flyers: 1-Gagne, Richards, Carcillo. 2-Hartnell, Carter, Briere.
Don't hold me to that though. My gut also tells me that Laviolette might be better suited to have the better-skating Timonen matched against Parise and the intimidating Pronger against Kovy.
--Mike G. Morreale
Game 1 primer
4.14.2010 / 12:00 PM ET
Philadelphia at New Jersey: 7:30 pm ET -- The Flyers beat the Devils five times this season (5-1-0), including three-straight games in the second half of the season. Philadelphia tallied five goals twice and outscored New Jersey 20-13 … The top point-getters for the season series were Claude Giroux (1-6--7) and Chris Pronger (0-7--7) for the Flyers and Patrik Elias (2-3--5) and Brian Rolston (1-4--5) for the Devils.
Brodeur vs. Boucher: Philadelphia goaltender Brian Boucher played his NHL rookie season with the Flyers in 1999-2000, leading them to the Eastern Conference Final before losing to Martin Brodeur and the eventual Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils in seven games. Brodeur has played 92 playoff games since 2000, Boucher just four.