Back on Track: Florida hosts energized Devils in Game 5
Added by Michael DiGiacomo on April 21, 2012.
Brodeur put the team on his back and shut out the Panthers in Tuesday's Game 4 win.
Nothing comes easy in post season hockey, but Thursdays shutout win for Pete Deboer and his Devils might have been the best thing to happen in this series. The Devils could have easily walked away with a series win, but, some inconsistencies caused both teams to now go the distance.
While Florida feels they now have the advantage in the series, potentially hosting two of the next three games, you can bet the “Swarm It Up” philosophy will be more prevalent than ever with motivation to take Game 5 and to wrap up this series at home on Tuesday at The Prudential Center.
The Devils seemed to beat themselves in games 2 and 3 more than Florida has been out playing them. I underestimated Florida quite a bit, though. The Devils almost put themselves in an early hole having to fend off a hungry Panthers team in the 1st period on Thursday. While the shots on goal did not reflect that, the Devils were lucky to head into the locker room tied at 0-0.
If you started the season all over again and compared these two teams side by side, 10 out of 10 puck heads would take the Devils any night of the week. Florida’s work ethic starts from the top down. Kevin Dineen managed 760 points, 2229 PIMs, and played 1188 NHL games over 18 seasons. He’s no Teemu Selanne, but hardwork does pay off. Work ethic apparently packs well, too.
Whatever is in the water in Florida, Pete Deboer decided to steal the ingredients and share some with his current roster. Pete is an individual who always made sure his team showed up on game nights. One thing I noticed about the last four periods in Tuesdays and Thursdays games is that the Devils did not let the Panthers out work them. 66 total Devils hits were served and Parise, probably by far, had his most physical contest Thursday night leading the team with five hits. Devils players said Parise’s play was contagious. As noted in my article from Game 1, so goes the Kovalchuk, Parise, Zajac line (and Marty) so goes the Devils.
While three of the four goals came from the Devils top line, other players seemed to be stepping up as well. Stephen Gionta had a solid game all around. He brought energy, intensity and helped lead the 2-on-1 that gave Bernier his first playoff goal. Expect a lot more from the unsung heroes as the series rolls along. 15 of the 18 skaters on the Devils have all recorded at least 1 point, including Ryan Carter, Stephen Gionta, and Steve Bernier. Keep an eye out for those three in Game 5, as depth will become valuable to give the Devils an edge.
If anyone should get approved for higher credit, it should be Martin Brodeur. You’ll never see him carrying a man purse because his makeup is all mental. It’s what you don’t see and know that drives him. “I’m not superman here. You get affected by certain things that happen to you, and I wanted to make sure I focused really well,” says Brodeur.
The man put on a show and gave his team every bit of the confidence they needed to play well and that he would do his job between the iron. “He’s been unbelievable all season and he’s always given us a chance to win,” forward David Clarkson said. “When he’s in net, he’s one of the best goalies in the world. You know you always have a chance to win; that’s the mindset we have had all season and now all playoffs.”
Martin Brodeur now holds the playoff record for shutouts (passing Patrick Roy). Pete Deboer claims he’s not a guy motivated by stats, but by battling, being competitive and giving all involved a chance at winning. Devils fan or not, you have to be impressed with Marty’s level of play after a deflating loss in Game 3.
For game 5, expect things to pick up right where they left off. Gritty, hard fought, lots of hits, and a well rounded game played by both teams. After all, nothing’s on the line right?