Can't stop us now! (Courtesy: Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE)

Fear The Devils? No More.

Once upon a time, seeing the New Jersey Devils on the schedule really bummed me out. From the moment I started watching hockey in 1994, the Devils were more than just a thorn in the Flyers side. They straight up dominated us. If we weren’t winning the division, they were. When we were falling short of winning the Cup, they marched ahead and won it three times. My hate for them equaled the hate Eagles fans have for the Dallas Cowboys. Almost all of my worst hockey memories involve the Devils. I’d rather not recount which ones, most you probably know the events I’m referring to.

But for at least the last 5 years, that helpless feeling of dread is gone. I don’t hope for wins, I expect them. When we met in the first round of the 2010 playoffs, they were the higher seed, and supposedly a favorite to knock us out. I saw it completely differently, and predicted the Flyers in 5. I just didn’t see them matching us in any facet of the game, and thats pretty much how it went.

Now here we are, about to face off again. This time, the Devils are a bit better than they were two years ago. Still, I’m just not worried. Maybe I should be. I’ve said it before a million times: In pro sports, the difference between the best and the worst isn’t really that much. But when a better team plays up to their potential, they win, and it just looks easy. This series won’t be easy on the players, but it might look that way to us.

The Devils simply cannot attack us in waves, the way we can attack them. They might be able to defend, but they don’t seem like a shut down group. During the regular season, they were in the top 10 in goals against. However, check out the SV% between the two starting goalies. As bad as Bryz was for most of the season, he stilled finished a tiny notch above Martin Brodeur (.909 vs .908). It’s negligible, and there’s a ton of other things that factor into the stats. I’m just trying to show that he’s got a great resume, but he’s not that great right now. He’s not going to win the series for them.

Flyers  in 5. (Interested in someone’s opinion from the other side of the fence? Pucks and Pitchforks has that view for ya.)

Thanks for reading!

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Tags: 2012 Playoffs Dallas Cowboys Ilya Bryzgalov Martin Brodeur New Jersey Devils NHL Philadelphia Eagles Philadelphia Flyers Playoffs

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