In front of a Newark crowd that was both embarrassingly sparse and delightfully orange, the Philadelphia Flyers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in their first round series against the #2 New Jersey Devils, beating them 2-1 in Game 1.
After a scoreless first which the Devils largely controlled, the Flyers drew the first blood of the series on a power play. Chris Pronger, standing in the crease far removed from his base of operations at the blueline, banked in the puck off a Devils' skate and in, making it 1-0 about halfway through regulation. Mike Richards made it a 2-1 contest on a high bullet with 4:33 to go in the second, sending the puck flying past Martin Brodeur's glove and careening hard off the back crossbar inside the net.
A goal by Travis Zajac with just under three minutes left in the third made the game far more interesting than it needed to be in the final stages. But even with Brodeur pulled and some sustained puck possession, the Devils never really got any great looks at tying the game at the end. The Flyers got a clear after a faceoff to the right of Boucher with 10 seconds left, and that was all she wrote.
So the Flyers won Game 1. It's awesome, but it's only the beginning.
Some more thoughts on the Flyers' win, in easily digestible bullet points.
- The big story of this game is obviously Brian Boucher, who, if only momentarily, silenced doubters by thoroughly outdueling Martin Brodeur. Boucher's positioning, anticipation, and battling for the crease were all near flawless, and the only goal he let in was solely due to a severe deflection off Ian Laperriere's stick. Boucher's 23 saves on 24 shots was good for a .958 save percentage, making him the only one of the four goalies in the early games to even break .860 in that category.
- The main blemish on this win, from the Flyers' perspective, is the ridiculously low number of shots (14) the Flyers managed to get on Martin Brodeur. They had far more than that after one period against the Rangers on Sunday. Hopefully it just serves as a demoralizing takeaway from this game for the Devils, and the Flyers at least manage to break 20 next time around.
- The Flyers penalty kill looked incredibly sexy out there. They killed all four penalties with some ease, including a double-minor for high sticking that was called against Oskars Bartulis midway through the third period. The Flyer power play didn't look especially good, but the penalty kill was definitely the more important factor.
- Scott Hartnell drew a penalty, and did not take any. I would have lost some serious money betting on that differential.
- Peter Laviolette called the Flyers timeout after the Devils goal, effectively dampening their momentum and cementing his reputation as the best timeout caller in NHL history.
- Matt Carle looked as good as he did in October and November. Which is to say that he looked really good.
1,300+ comments tonight, a BSH record. Thanks for making it possible, everybody. Let's double it in Game 2.
After the jump, questions with answers and some attempt to find the comment of the night. Go Flyers.
Questions with Answers
- Do the Flyers control the pace from the outset? Not really. Things were pretty even at the start.
- Will Chris Pronger let his presence be known immediately? Pronger was a straight up MAN all night long, including while he sat in the crease on the PP, where he scored his goal.
- Does Martin Brodeur look shaky, as he has all year against the Flyers? He didn't look like Marty of old, that's for sure.
- How many fans will JVR have in attendance? Shocked that the CSN crew didn't mention this.
- How many Flyers fans in general make the trek? Conflicting reports. I heard that there were a lot, I've also heard there were a little. One thing is for sure, though: the ones who were there were LOUD. BOOOOOSH chants rained down from the seats all night long.
- Do the Devils get Kovalchuk out against Coburn and Bartulis a lot? Can Coburn step up his game? Kovalchuk was hilariously frustrated all night long.
- Can the Flyers stay out of the penalty box? Looking at you, Scott. No, they couldn't. But the penalties weren't the stupid kind that Hartnell is accustomed to taking.
Comment of the Night
3. Devils fans (for not showing up)