Thursday, July 31, 2014
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Devils should be worried

Flyers 4, Devils 3 (OT)

Devils should be worried

Ilya Bryzgalov gives Danny Briere a hug after the Flyers´ Game 1 win over the Devils. (Michael Bryant / Staff Photographer)
Ilya Bryzgalov gives Danny Briere a hug after the Flyers' Game 1 win over the Devils. (Michael Bryant / Staff Photographer)

The Flyers won a game, just a game, just one of the four games that they will need in order to get past the New Jersey Devils in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. But the way it happened should leave the Devils wondering -- because this was a great chance for them to take the series opener, and they didn't.

Think about it. The Devils had the first 11 shots of the game -- the Flyers didn't have one for almost exactly 10 minutes -- but they only had a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period. Part of that was because Ilya Bryzgalov was very good at the start. Part of it was because the Devils weren't good enough.

Then the Flyers came back. They began to take over the play in a very significant way in the second period, and they only gave it up sporadically after that. Their forecheck was relentless. Whatever rustiness they had acquired over a week-long layoff following their first-round victory over Pittsburgh was gone. If Bryzgalov hadn't allowed Petr Sykora to rifle a shot between his pads in the third period, the Flyers would have won in regulation.

But the Devils could not take advantage of Bryz, just as they could not take advantage of the Flyers' slow start. You do not advance in the playoffs if you do not take advantage of opportunites, and the Devils whiffed on both of those in Game 1.

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Then there are the side issues. Danny Briere, with two goals -- including the game-winner in OT -- continues to be a post-season magician; bad for the Devils. Claude Giroux, with a slapshot goal from the half-boards on a power play, continues to lead by leading; bad for the Devils. Ilya Kovalchuk, the Devils' premier scoring threat, did not have a shot on goal and was a minus-2.

Repeat after me:

Bad for the Devils.

Someone asked Devils coach Peter DeBoer about taking too many penalties (six), and he said that wasn't the reason the Devils lost. He said, "They took the game over in the second half. And when you're just hanging on, that's what happens."

One game, yes. But it seemed -- for many reasons, but mostly because the Flyers were able to dictate their style of play -- like more than that.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
About this blog
Rich Hofmann arrived at the Daily News in 1980 for a job whose status was officially designated as "full-time, temporary." A senior at Penn at the time, he was hired to fill in on the copy desk during a staff illness. The notion of him covering the Eagles or being a columnist did not exist in anyone's imagination. It was supposed to be six weeks and out, but he never left. It is only one of the reasons why so many people have concerns about him as a potential house guest. Rich has blogged the postseasons of the Flyers and Eagles. E-mail Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com Reach Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
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