Opted not to go with "Five questions with the Devil," since that's kind of rude. But whatever. It's the playoffs.
1. What's the one thing you're most afraid of on thisteam?
The answer, to me, Chris Pronger. At worst, he could seriously hurt someone - just ask Dean McAmmond. Even then, he's been one of the top defensive defensemen in the league on even strength. On top of that, he logs both heavy points and minutes. Of all the Flyers, he's the biggest threat.
2. What's the one aspect of the Devils that we should be most afraid of?
Ilya Kovalchuk wants to make a statement in the playoffs. He's done it at the WC level; but he wants to prove his worth. But can the Flyers handle him and Parise? I don't know. Basically, do you trust Krajicek vs. Kovalchuk?
3. Why will the Devils win this series? Why will they lose?
Momentum is the answer to both. If the Devils can transfer their good form in April into wins in Games 1 and 2, then NJ will win. Philly has to turn this series into the regular season and build momentum from that. That means they need something in Newark. How each team maintains/creates momentum will be the key.
4. Should we ignore the Flyers regular season success against the Devils, or is it still relevant?
It's only relevant if the Flyers get early wins. Should the Devils win even just game 1 decisively, it would render the season series as irrelevant - the Flyers won't be thinking about 5-out-of-6 should NJ outpost them early.
5. Ask most fans and they aren't going to think a defense with Paul Martin and Bryce Salvador is all that good. Are they wrong, and if so, why?
They are wrong and here's the proof:
Well, if you don't know much about the Devils defense, then this chart should sum it up for you: the whole is the greater of the sum of their parts. Only Colin White and Mike Mottau saw an increase in goals against per 60 when they come on the ice, but that's not as terrible as you may think when you consider that they've came across the toughest opposition. In terms of shots against, the rest of the blueline is more varied; but when the biggest "liability" was the rate going up by a shot when Mark Fraser stepped on the ice for a shift, you know it's been a very solid group.
Our thanks to John for taking the time to answer our questions. Hopefully his team is just as accommodating to our team beginning tonight.