When four teams from one division make the playoffs, they’re bound to meet. In our last installment of Semifinal previews, we’ll look at the series between Atlantic Division rivals Philadelphia Flyers against the New Jersey Devils. The Flyers have won the last two playoff meetings between the teams after the Devils broke the Flyers’ hearts by coming back from a 1-3 series deficit in the Eastern Conference Final in 2000.
The Flyers earned their spot in this series by beating their hated rival Pittsburgh Penguins in a crazy 6 game series. Way too many goals were scored as both defenses and at times goalies decided not to show up for very long stretches. The Devils needed 7 games and double overtime in the last one in order to dispatch the 3rd seeded Florida Panthers.
I’ll start out with the topic everyone loves to talk about…the goalies. The question for both teams is this: which goalie shows up? Will we see the old Marty Brodeur or will we see the old Marty Brodeur? Will we see the Master of the Universe Ilya Bryzgalov who sported a 0.29 GAA and a 3-0-0 record against New Jersey this year or will we see Ilya “I Look Like a Giraffe in Net” Bryzgalov? Both goalies finished very strong in the last games of their series, but otherwise looked so-so (and downright bad at time for Bryz). Brodeur can be susceptible to shots at his feet and it’s not rare for him to give up a bad angle goal along the ice targeted at the far post. The Flyers will be best suited to just keep firing away at him. Bryzgalov looked very slow moving laterally against the Penguins, and it was pretty clear that he wasn’t fully healed from his foot injury that saw him lose playing time at the end of the year. The Flyers are hoping the rest allowed him to heal up.