The Flyers can’t afford the gesture at this point in the best of seven Eastern Conference semifinal. They trail 2-1 heading into Sunday’s game at the Prudential Center, and the margin might easily have been 3-0.
That’s how well the Devils have played this series. They’ve slowed down Philadelphia’s offense with their forecheck while also shutting down a power play that had a big hand in sending Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins home in the previous round.
If Brodeur has a concern, it’s about his own team, which won Game 3 in overtime Thursday night. The Devils relaxed at times in the opening round against the Florida Panthers and can’t afford a repeat of that.
The Flyers have been good in spurts, but they have struggled against the Devils’ forechecking. Philadelphia center Claude Giroux, the leading scorer in the playoffs entering Saturday’s play, has been a non factor the past two games.
In a bid to shake things up, coach Peter Laviolette changed lines at practice Saturday.
James van Riemsdyk was taken off the left side of Giroux’s line and replaced by Scott Hartnell. Van Riemdyk will replace Hartnell on Danny Briere’s line.
The other change expected in the Flyers’ lineup is Zac Rinaldo taking over for Sean Couturier (lower-body injury) on the fourth line. Couturier was hurt in Game 3.
Devils captain Zach Parise said the team has done a good job of not giving the Flyers any cheap goals. However, there are still too many penalties. The Flyers have had 16 power plays in the first three games but only scored twice. They had 12 power-play goals in six games against Pittsburgh.
Laviolette thinks his team has made adjustments both in their defensive end and at center ice against New Jersey, but the Flyers need to push more on the offensive end.
The Devils, who like the Flyers took Friday off, didn’t change anything for Saturday’s roughly one hour practice. Ilya Kovalchuk, who had a goal and two assists returning to the lineup for Game 3 on Thursday, said the lower body injury that sidelined him for Game 2 was feeling fine.
Off the ice, there were a lot of smiles and confidence in the Devils’ locker room.
Philadelphia Flyers – Ilya Bryzgalov
New Jersey Devils – Martin Brodeur
Expect the Flyers to come out full throttle not giving an inch to the Devils. Also expect them to get in the head of Martin Brodeur. It’s hard to believe the Devils will take the 3-1 series lead after this game.
Philadelphia Flyers +100 (1 UNIT)
Pucking Hockey is a registered trademark company. Pucking Hockey is a registered copyright company. All Rights Reserved.