The Flyers went ahead of the New Jersey Devils last night, 3 games to 1, embarrassing them with a score of 4 - 1. Flyers center, Jeff Carter, put the puck past Brodeur twice (once in the 2nd period and once more late in the 3rd) earning him his first goals and points this playoff series. Danny Briere smacked a shot that ended upper deck above Brodeur's stick side giving him his first goal of the post season, and once again, Flyers agitating winger, Daniel Carcillo, squeezed a wrister between the post and Marty's left side earning him his second goal in two games!
Although one of Philadelphia's main goals going into last night's game was to stay out of the penalty box, the officials took every opportunity to call them on weak penalties. I am not saying the penalties never happened, but for one reason or another the men in stripes never allowed the Flyers to gain or hold any consistency.
With that said, the referees called anything and everything against the Devils in the 3rd period, deleting any chance for them to make a comeback. I'm obviously not complaining about that, but I'd much rather see some skilled 5 on 5 hockey than the 60 minute slop those idiots called all game long.
These are seasoned referees who are supposed to call a fair game so it is evenly matched and enjoyable to watch. However, they did just the opposite. Playoff hockey is faster and more aggressive, and it's been like that since the dawn of the NHL. From the puck drop until the sound of the horn in the 3rd, I can imagine frustration was built on epic levels from both squads and their fans. So I'd like to give a mile high middle finger to the officials from last night.
With that off my chest, my attention immediatly falls on Devils goalie, Martin Brodeur. Sure, he only stopped 24 of 28 shots, but New Jersey's defense had a smacked ass performance last night and if it weren't for the sharp eyes and lightning fast glove of their veteran tender then I see no reason why the Flyers could not have ended the game with 7 or 8 goals.
There's one particular save Brodeur had on Simon Gagne early in the 2nd period that left me and the rest of the viewers in awe.
After a scramble around Jersey's net, Brodeur had lost his footing and was forced to make sacrificial plays from his stomach. As the puck rebounded backward in front of Marty's crease, Gagne slid up and wristed a shot that inevitably looked like a sure goal. Brodeur, laying on his right side with a net virtually open and exposed behind him, lifted his glove and grabbed the puck in mid stream, robbing Simon instantaneously.
This seemingly easy goal would have tied the game up 1 - 1, but Brodeur in traditional fashion came up with a brilliant play in net.
But speaking of outstanding goal tending, once AGAIN Flyers tender, Brian Boucher, makes me look like an even bigger jackass by putting on another great performance, stopping 30 of 31 shots on goal. The only puck that whizzed by was Ilya Kovalchuk's wrist shot on a Devils 2 man power play advantage. Goals scored against any team while they are on a 2 man disadvantage is usually excusable, and this one was sure at that.
Like I said, new-comer New Jersey superstar, Ilya Kovalchuk, was the only man in red to light up the Devils score board. After he scored his power play goal he celebrated in - what I thought was - a disrespectful fashion. Sure this guy scores 40 - 50 goals a season and broke his frustration with a puck in net, but after scoring on Boucher last night you woulda thought he was one of the seven dwarfs and just tapped Snow White's ass.
Congrats, Ilya. You managed to score two goals in this series; one came from a Flyers empty net and now another on a 2 man advantage power play. Both of which that could have been accomplished by a man awaking out of a 15 year coma and taking his first steps out of bed. But go ahead and celebrate like you just saved the earth from an asteroid instead of keeping it under your belt and allowing it to give yourself some momentum.
I have to give props to Jeff Carter coming up huge in this game, along with Danny Briere. Both of these Flyers stars have had unfortunate seasons either due to dry scoring spells or injuries, but last night they stepped up when they needed to, especially after being called out by the sports media.
Another Flyer I must mention is....you guessed it....Daniel Carcillo. Early in the third, Carcillo scored an odd-angle shot that seemed to stick the knife a little deeper into the Devils. I understand Daniel has stepped up his game since Peter Laviolette's newer system has been implemented, but I can guarantee that no goalie, ESPECIALLY Martin Brodeur, appreciates a player like Carcillo scoring on them in a very important playoff game. Certainly one that has so much riding on it.
Bad news, though; Jeff Carter seemed to re-aggravate his injured foot and may be sitting out Thursday's game. Simon Gagne took two pucks off of HIS foot and may have broken a big toe. He never made it back onto the ice in the 3rd period.
Both men are weapons. Both men have the skill and potential to break a game wide open. We'll just have to see how Lavvy responds to these two unfortunate dilemmas.
If there's one thing a hardcore Flyers fan knows, it's that this series (regardless if we're up 3 games to 1) is not over. We've seen the Devils comeback in a 3 game to 1 deficit before in 2000....against Brian Boucher too. Boosh is determined not to let that happen again, and neither is the team he has in front of him.
The Philadelphia Flyers have done an amazing job jumping ahead of everyone's expectations by playing effective, physical hockey and winning games, at that. I have no doubt that we can clinch this series and move onto the next, but just remember that anything can happen in the second season.
The Flyers face off in Game 5 on Thursday night @ 7:00pm in Newark, New Jersey. It's time to tighten the noose and send these Devil bastards to the golf course.
Below I added that ridiculous save Brodeur had on Gagne early in the 2nd period.