As the Devils finished off the Philadelphia Flyers I had thought about the beginning of this series and I thought that the Devils were going to be steam rolled by a very physical Flyers team. Since the Flyers had run over the Pittsburgh Penguins with some what of ease, I thought worse for the Devils since they barely could get passed the Florida Panthers. Five games later I was proved wrong and boy was I glad to be wrong.
The personality of coach Pete DeBoer really came through against the Flyers that really has not been seen in New Jersey in quite some time. He is a tough coach to read. The Devils were a tough team to read for the Flyers as they would try to break into the Devils’ zone but would be caught in the neutral zone making it impossible to generate any offense. DeBoer always has a calm look on his face. The Flyers would try to pull the Devils into their game of getting the Devils to play agitated hockey but they had nothing of it. They played whistle to whistle and level headed which didn’t get them into penalty trouble. DeBoer wanted to bring a more offensive style of hockey to a defensive driven team. The Devils had the right mix of offense (scoring at least 3 goals a game in the series) and defense (allowing 11 goals over the 5 games). But what really separates this Devils team from prior playoff teams is the fact the Devils were able to establish a forecheck that I had never seen before. Their forecheck was relentless against a physical Flyers team which ultimately lead to the demise of the Flyers.
You really have to give a ton of credit to coach Pete DeBoer but the job isn’t done yet. They will have to either play the Rangers or the Capitals in the EAstern Conference Finals. Either team won’t be an easy task but if the Devils can continue their great mix of offense and constraining defense they could be making their 5th trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.