Anytime the Devils and the Flyers get together for a game, battle lines are drawn. And this is very true here in the state of New Jersey. The northern part has a steadfast allegiance to the Devils, the southern part is Flyers country (to that I say: Why?), and the central part (i.e. Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean, Hunterdon, and northern Burlington counties, with the last one being where I reside) is split between the two. Pleasantries (and I use that word very loosely) and bickering are engaged between friends, families, and enemies. Chaos ensues. Probably the only thing that unites the fanbases is the common hatred for Our Slutty Older Sisters. That's it. So anytime the teams square off, things get really fiesty.
Today's match-up was no different from any other installments of this rivalry. Events of importance were as follows:
1) Martin Brodeur's first test against a proven opponent. Colorado is fail, and the Panthers were a simply promising team that had an atrocious day. They did make up for it today with a 6-2 pimp-slapping of the Capitals. That leads me to wonder which pop culture references Randy Moller used for each of Florida's tallies.
2) Danny Briere's return to the ice. The Flyers are hoping that Briere could be equal or do Brodeur one better in his comeback.
3) Brodeur's quest to reach the career wins and career shutouts records. He has 99 career goose eggs against opponents and 546 career victories heading into the matinee.
That's what was on everybody's mind, and mine as well as I tuned into the game with the Flyers feed providing the
horror commentary. Turned out #'s 1 and 3 came through today in the Devils' 3-0 win.
Jersey's Team (yes Travis, I said it) got a goal for each period. Captain Jamie Langenbrunner got the opening tally, with assists from Zach Parise and Travis Zajac. Yes, the ZZ Pop line is back, and very likely here to stay. The second saw Brian Gionta tap one in to make it 2-0. And Johnny Oduya made it three-nil, and that was the end of it, giving Brodeur his 100th career shutout and inched him closer to Patrick Roy's record of 551 wins with 547.
Other than those three goals, this game was purely defense heavy. Saves here by both MBs (Brodeur and the inferior Martin Biron). Blocked shots and passes over there (15-12 blocked shots in favor of the Devils). And what would a Devils-Flyers game be without scrums, hits, rising tensions, hostilities, and hurt bodies/feelings (Andrew Alberts with two hits, Gagne breaking his hand on Rolston's shot, etc.). This game was as intense as you could get from this kind of rivalry.
Lots of themes were abound in the contest. Defense, blocked shots, scrums, and "save by Brodeur" calls by both Doc Emrick and Jim Jackson (the Flyers play-by-play guy who not only called the Devils farm team in Utica back in the day, he also learned from the best in Emrick while Doc called games for the Flyers in the late '80s-early '90s) to name a few. However, I'd be remiss not to name the most important theme in this matinee, which was milestones.
As mentioned before, Brodeur notched his 100th career shut-out against Philly. While I'm on the subject, it seems as if Brodeur makes every career achievement at the expense of the Fly-Boys. First, he broke Bernie Parent's single season wins record (in Philadelphia, I may add). Then came his 500th career win, also in Philadelphia. And now, this. When the team on the wrong side of the accomplishment is your hated rival, it's always a beautiful sight. But enough about that, because another milestone was made by another Devil. Captain Langs' first period goal was the 200th of his career. Way to go Jamie!
To me, this game was a true measuring stick as far as how Brodeur would fare against a real, quality opponent like the Flyers (all apologies to W4E and the Litter Box Cats family). And he succeeded with gusto, which gives him my vote of confidence now until season's end.
With that game now done, the Devils get on the road for a Tuesday night match with Toronto. Stay Jersey, and Lets Go Devils!