A tough task just got a lot tougher. Cliche: The series clinching game is the hardest to win. Fact: The cliche is true, most of the time. I think this series will hold true to that statement. First, the team is constantly annoyed with the fans and media bringing up the Devils comeback from 10 years ago. Aside from Boucher and Gagne, nobody else was on the team then. So guess what, the players pretty much don’t care. More importantly, they have to overcome a team that finished as the 2 seed in an underrated Eastern Conference. They’ve almost accomplished that goal. Now, to complete the task, they have to do it without Carter and Gagne. Each will have surgery on a broken right foot tomorrow. Carter is done for 6 weeks, and Gagne for 3.
So can they do it? Yes. Will they? I don’t know. What will it take? Well, that’s the fun part. So far, the message to the team has been to stay out of the box. They haven’t listened, but at least the PK has been their savior. Defense is always important, but now they have to bear down even more. Even though Carter and Gagne weren’t scoring (until Game 4), they were always buzzing, coming close, creating chances. Whoever the Flyers call up, will not be able to do that. And they’re also not in the flow of the playoffs as are the rest of the guys who have played the entire series.
I’m expecting a lot more pressure from the Devils tonight. They are at home, facing elimination, coming off a few embarressing offensive performances, and face a significantly depleted Flyers lineup. However, they’ve been cold, Brodeur hasn’t been himself and Boucher has been terrific. The Flyers could use an early lead tonight, more than they normally would. I’m getting the feeling that tonight game will have a similar flow to Game 1. That’s why an early goal would go a long way. As I posted a few days ago, the team goes as Richards goes. He’s been awesome so far, completely living up to expectations. If he comes out playing well, then I’ll be confident tonight.
- A large portion of the crowd will consist of the Flyers faithful. I hope they’re loud and proud, and give the team a bit of a boost.
- Brodeur shaved his playoff beard “to change things up” . I think this is a spit in the face of the hockey gods. It is a well known commandment that a playoff beard may be maintained, but never removed, unless the team is removed from the playoffs. His prematurely shorn visage must be punished by elimination, tonight!
- Kovalchuk had 0 shots in Game 3. He had 5 or 6 early in the first period of Game 4. After the early goal, he only had 1 shot for the rest of the game. However they’re doing it, I hope they keep it up.
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