Flyers Sweep Home and Home

In what seemed to be the exact opposite of Thursday, the Flyers completed the sweep of their home and home with the Devils today with a  2-1 win. Instead of starting slow and finishing strong, the Flyers came out strong and slowed down towards the end of the game. With 3 times as many chances as the Devils in the 1st period, the Flyers were able to gain a 2-0 lead that they would hold onto for a close one goal win. Combined with Thursday’s 4-2 victory, the Flyers were able to outscore New Jersey in the home and home 6-3. The win extends the Flyers’ win streak to 3 and extends the Devils’ losing streak to 4.

The 1st period was all Flyers. Despite being outshot 12-11 in the first 20 minutes, the Flyers would out chance the Devils 9-3 and outscore them 2-0. The first goal of the game was caused by a great individual effort from JVR and a weak play by Hedberg. Skating into the zone from center ice, JVR would drive to the net protecting the puck to his left side and just put the puck on net which is where Hedberg decided to let the puck go in between his legs making it 1-0. Later on in the period, Giroux would penetrate the box on the powerplay and give the puck to Briere who was on the side of the net. Briere would then bank the shot off the back of Hedberg’s shoulder and into the net for a powerplay goal; Philly was 1 for 4 on the powerplay in the 1st period. Hedberg was then pulled with 5:19 left in the 1st period making 8 saves on 10 shots. Brodeur would save the lone shot he saw in the 1st period.

The 2nd period would be a different story as yet another lucky bounce taking place in a game between these 2 teams would shift momentum. Thursday, it was the lively boards at the Prudential Center that got Philly started. Today, it was Ville Leino’s skate that got Jersey going. An Andy Greene shot would hit Leino’s skate, loop over a jumping Timonen, and over an unsuspecting Boucher resulting in the Devils’ only goal on the day. The Devils would use the break to their advantage by almost tying it up with a Kovalchuk chance in the crease on their 2nd powerplay opportunity within the period. Boucher would snuff out Kovy’s chance with a great leg save. The Devils relentless pressure throughout the period looked to have come to an end with van Riemsdyk drawing a holding call on Tallinder. However, a penalty kill that saw the Devils get more chances than the Flyers gave New Jersey the momentum back just before the end of the period.

Unfortunately for the Devils, the momentum would not carry over as the 3rd period was played fairly even. New Jersey would take control at the end of the period when they were in complete desperation mode. Big saves by Boucher on great chances from Zharkov and Zubrus let the Flyers ultimately hold on for the win. The last 40 minutes saw strong play from the last place Devils, but undisciplined play and missed opportunities (a summary of there season) caused the Devils to not extend the game to overtime.

Yet another stronger performance by Boucher today extended the Flyers win streak over the Devils to 3. Along with providing 34 saves on 35 shots, Boucher made some key saves when the Flyers’ defense broke down. In addition to the aforementioned kick save on Kovalchuk, Boosh made a great save on an Arnott opportunity off a Meszaros turnover and the saves late in the 3rd period to keep the Flyers on top. The Devils’ only goal today, one could argue, would be a tough save for most goalies. Boucher didn’t see the puck after it hit Leino’s skate until it was in the back of the net. Today’s one goal game was Boucher’s 6th one goal game on the year. The win makes his record 2-0-1 against New Jersey this year and 10-4-2 on the season.

James van Riemsdyk grabbed 1st star of the game honors as he deserved. After putting the Flyers up, he drew a penalty late in the 2nd period that seemed to kill New Jersey’s momentum along with creating another scoring chance in the beginning of the 3rd period. van Riemsdyk’s goal was his 10th on the year and his 2nd on the season against the Devils.

A stretch of bad goaltending and undisciplined play hurt the Devils today. Hedberg started strong making his first 8 saves, but then quickly fell apart allowing goals on back to back shots. In a relief appearance, Brodeur would make 19 saves and allow no goals against. The Devils would take 6 penalties on the day, which were only 2 more than the Flyers but were costly none the less. Both the incidents which Tallinder got called for a penalty (double minor on Shelley for high-sticking and holding on JVR) could have been easily avoided. He was in the box for JVR’s goal and killed his team’s momentum in the 2nd period with the holding call. In addition to Tallinder’s penalty, the Devils got called for a too many men on the ice penalty 3 minutes into the 3rd. When a team gets one of those calls, it’s a sign that nobody is paying attention or focusing (including the coaches).

The next time these two teams play is January 22nd in Philly, where the Flyers will be looking to beat New Jersey for the 3rd and final time at home this season.

Notes:

Briere scored on the powerplay in the first period making Philly 1 for 6 on the day; they’re 2 for 15 on the year against New Jersey. JVR’s goal makes him the 7th Flyer with at least 10 goals on the year; Leino and Nodl both have 9. Meszaros led all Flyers in ice time with 24:20; Andy Greene had a game high 24:38. The Flyers are now 3-0-1 against New Jersey on the year, 12-2-1 against New Jersey since the beginning of the 2009-2010 season (including playoffs), and have won 13 of 16 games between the two clubs dating back to the final 2008-2009 regular season match up. The Flyers are at the halfway point of their regular season with a 26-10-5 record; they’re on pace for a 52-20-10 record and 114 points.