So, the Devils will play the Philadelphia Flyers next round. The Flyers only ended one point ahead of the Devils in the final standings of the regular season, although they did proceed to crush Pittsburgh in their quarterfinal series. As we know, they Devils had a difficult fight with the Florida Panthers for their own quarterfinals series.
People will undoubtedly pick Philadelphia to beat the Devils. This is fair: they're a huge, physical, and offensive team who steamrolled a Stanley Cup favorite. But, if the Devils do a few things right, they can get themselves into the conference finals.
1. Avoid the stupid penalties. The Devils had trouble staying out of the box last series, and it came very close to costing them dearly. Philly will want to play with the rough stuff, and it might not be a good idea for the Devils to retaliate. That way, the Flyers will take stupid penalties and be on the defensive. The Devils have to play very disciplined hockey, and draw a few penalties themselves.
2. Play good defense. Obviously, this is always important, but I think it's importance is emphasized in this series. The Flyers-Penguins series produced a record number of goals, so clearly neither of the defenses were very good. That said, the scorefest was a reflection of the brawls and the way that series unfolded, but a lot of those goals would have been stopped by some better defense. If the Devils can not let up a ton of goals, they can definitely bury a lot of chances.
3. Shoot. Shoot a LOT. Neither Bryzgalov nor Bobrovsky are great goalies. Marty has played pretty well so fair in these playoffs. If the Devils and Flyers were to trade equal chances, I think New Jersey would have the upper hand. It's about creating the chances though, and the Devils will have to put a lot of pucks on net instead of trying to tick-tack-toe it around the offensive zone; Philly swallow up those extra chances.
Those are my three keys for the Devils to win the series. What are yours?
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