Postgame Thoughts: Devils 3, Flyers 0

Corey Griffin

Game links: Pregame thread | First period analysis | Second period analysis | Twitter

Although the Devils weren’t that impressed by tonight’s win, it was important nonetheless. There were definite stretches where they let Philly control the play, but in the end, they created their own chances and got a little luck on a couple others. Some thoughts:

2-0 and 2-0: The Devils have won their first two games, but they’ve also won their first two games in the division — and not just any division, but the hyper-competitive, fight-to-the-freakin-death Atlantic. As teams like the Rangers (0-1 in division) and Flyers (0-2 in division) struggle out of the gate, two early wins for the Devils is a nice little leg up in this shortened season. Never underestimate division wins, no matter how early in the season they are. Trust me, in two months, we’ll be looking back on this nice start and realizing how important these wins were.

Marty doing Marty things: This is my first season covering this team, but I have a feeling I’ll run out of ways to describe Marty Brodeur’s unbelievable consistency by about the end of February. All he did tonight was keep a Flyers team at bay despite Philly dominating the first period and putting together stretches that threatened to end Marty’s bid at career shutout No. 120. The stacked pads sliding save in the second period was a thing of beauty and if not for Marty’s work in the first period, that game could have easily been 2-2 or 3-2 Flyers heading into the first intermission.

Frustrated Philly: You know what GM Paul Holmgren should get his team? No, not another high-priced, temperamental goalie from a foreign country. A bucket full of stress balls and a lot of hugs. The Flyers are a mess. After a couple of bad goals in the first — the first of which was the result of horrible backchecking — the team completely lost its cool despite handling the Devils basically from start to finish in the first 20 minutes. Maybe it was Brodeur or maybe it was the three games in four games, but no matter how you slice it, the Flyers got frazzled. They started getting chippy and Wayne Simmonds even tried to get in Marty’s head (sorry, that’s Sean Avery’s schtick). Yes, the Flyers will be better when Daniel Briere gets back this weekend (he’ll bring balance, calm and playmaking to their hectic top six), but something WFAN’s Sean Hartnett said on Twitter tonight really made sense. He basically pointed out that without Chris Pronger, the Flyers don’t have anyone to kick their own asses in the dressing wrong — unless you’re buying Claude Giroux as the team’s emotional leader already, which neither of us are yet. If I’m a Flyers fan, I understand the concern and I wouldn’t panic yet, but boy, if someone doesn’t calm them down and get them through this rough early stretch, things could get very ugly in Philly by midseason.

This will linger: Because Philly was so clearly and visibly frustrated, they got physical, which led to a number of scrums and two full-on, drop-the-gloves scraps, the last of which between Brayden Schenn and Steve Bernier seemed unnecessary. If you think the hostility ends when the Flyers leave Newark, think again. These two teams already have a history and this will add to it. The two teams don’t meet again until Feb. 15 in Newark again so that should cool some of the tension, but by then likely two things will have happened with the Flyers: Either they’ll have figured it out and will be trying to dig themselves out of a hole aka playing inspired, physical Flyers hockey. Or, they’ll have completely melted down in which case all bets are off. Either way, expect Feb. 15 to be of the same nature as tonight, feisty and with Philly playing on the edge or over it and Jersey having to stand up and respond.

Won’t back down: Speaking of not backing down, how about the fight from the Devils tonight? I won’t go too long into this, but you have to be pleased with not only their physical response, but also how they kept their heads about them. Several times during the second and third period, the Flyers tried to get the Devils off their game and push them into playing the kind of game Philly wanted and they didn’t bite. But they also didn’t walk away. They stood tall, fought when they had to fight and had the smarts not to go any further. It was almost as impressive as the “W.”

Busy week ahead: Jersey has the next two days off (at least from games) before playing four games in seven days, including the team’s first “road trip” — a two-game jaunt over three days to Montreal and Boston. This could also be the last we see of Stefan Matteau, who showed some offensive punch tonight. Expect to see Johan Hedberg at least once during this stretch, even though there’s no back-to-backs. For the record, the next four games are Friday vs. the Capitals, Sunday at the Canadiens, Tuesday at the Bruins and Thursday vs. the Islanders.

Game notes, three stars and summaries after the jump…

Game Notes (via Devils PR)

  • The Devils improved to 17-8-5 in homer-openers all-time.
  • The team begins the season 2-0 for the first time since 2008-09.
  • The Devils are 2-3-1 in openers since moving to Prudential Center, their only other win being a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders on 10/10/08.
  • New Jersey is now 2-2 vs. the Flyers in home-openers.
  • Ilya Kovalchuk is now 3-for-4 on penalty shots in his career.
  • It was Kovalchuk’s seventh career shorthanded goal. He posted a career-high three SHG last season.
  • Kovalchuk has points in back-to-back games (1g-2a-3pts).
  • Travis Zajac and David Clarkson have each started the season with two goals in two games for the first time in their careers.

Three Stars
1. Martin Brodeur Devils G – Saves: 24 Save Pct.: 1.000
2. Ilya Kovalchuk Devils LW – Goals: 1 Assists: 1
3. Travis Zajac Devils C – Goals: 1 Assists: 0

Scoring Summary1st Period (1:07): New Jersey – Travis Zajac 2 (Assists: Bryce Salvador 1, Dainius Zubrus 1)
1st Period (19:35): New Jersey – David Clarkson 2 (power play) (Assists: Ilya Kovalchuk 2, Marek Zidlicky 1)

2nd Period (2:44): New Jersey Devils – Ilya Kovalchuk 1 (penalty shot)

Penalty Summary
1st Period (12:00): New Jersey – high-sticking – 2 min – M. Zidlicky drawn by S. Hartnell
1st Period (14:20): New Jersey – tripping – 2 min – I. Kovalchuk drawn by S. Laughton
1st Period (19:25): Philadelphia  – interference – 2 min – B. Coburn drawn by I. Kovalchuk

2nd Period (1:39): New Jersey – slashing – 2 min – M. Zidlicky drawn by M. Read
2nd Period (2:44): Philadelphia – hooking – K. Timonen drawn by I. Kovalchuk
2nd Period (5:02): New Jersey – tripping – 2 min – M. Tedenby drawn by A. Meszaros
2nd Period (10:31): New Jersey – roughing – 2 min – S. Matteau drawn by J. Voracek
2nd Period (10:31): New Jersey – roughing – 2 min – D. Clarkson drawn by S. Hartnell
2nd Period (10:31): Philadelphia – roughing – 2 min – S. Hartnell drawn by D. Clarkson
2nd Period (10:31): Philadelphia – roughing – 2 min – J. Voracek drawn by S. Matteau
2nd Period (12:50): Philadelphia – interference with goaltender – 2 min – W. Simmonds drawn by S. Bernier served by T. McGinn
2nd Period (12:50): New Jersey – roughing – 2 min – S. Bernier drawn by W. Simmonds
2nd Period (12:50): Philadelphia – roughing – 2 min – W. Simmonds drawn by S. Bernier
2nd Period (12:50): Philadelphia – roughing – 2 min – W. Simmonds drawn by S. Bernier
2nd Period (12:50): New Jersey – roughing – 2 min – S. Bernier drawn by W. Simmonds
2nd Period (15:56): Philadelphia – abuse of officials – 2 min – Bench served by T. McGinn
2nd Period (16:46): Philadelphia – high-sticking – 2 min  – B. Coburn drawn by D. Clarkson

3rd Period (6:49): Philadelphia – abuse of officials – 2 min – C. Giroux
3rd Period (7:35): New Jersey – interference – 2 min – D. Clarkson drawn by L. Schenn
3rd Period (11:22): New Jersey – roughing – 2 min – B. Salvador drawn by M. Talbot
3rd Period (11:22): Philadelphia – roughing – 2 min – M. Talbot drawn by B. Salvador
3rd Period (11:22): New Jersey – slashing – 2 min – B. Salvador drawn by M. Talbot
3rd Period (11:22): Philadelphia – slashing – 2 min – M. Talbot drawn by B. Salvador
3rd Period (12:24): Philadelphia – slashing – 2 min – C. Giroux drawn by I. Kovalchuk
3rd Period (12:32): Philadelphia – puck over glass – 2 min – N. Grossmann
3rd Period (12:50): New Jersey – interference – 2 min – M. Zidlicky drawn by S. Couturier
3rd Period (15:28): New Jersey – fighting – 5 min – D. Clarkson drawn by W. Simmonds
3rd Period (15:28): Philadelphia – fighting – 5 min – W. Simmonds drawn by D. Clarkson
3rd Period (19:27): New Jersey – fighting – 5 min – S. Bernier drawn by B. Schenn
3rd Period (19:27): Philadelphia – fighting – 5 min – B. Schenn drawn by S. Bernier