Martin Brodeur shakes hands with Ilya Bryzgalov after the Devils won the series 4-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The NHL Playoff Recap gives you THN's take of what happened in each game of the night and what the consequences will be for the rest of the series.
We also provide our Three Stars of the night, which will be tabulated after each round. First Star is three points, Second Star is two points and Third Star is one point. Be sure to vote on who you think the first star was as well.
Of course there's the other side of the coin: The Black Hole is a piece of the lineup that just couldn't get it going on a given night and contributed to a difficult evening for the team.
THN’s Take: The Devils won the series because they didn’t allow Philadelphia to dictate the terms of battle. As expected, the Flyers came out with a fast, physical assault, but the Devils maintained composure and once again stifled any offense their opponents attempted to muster. This was a series branded by New Jersey; the Devils kept the Flyers’ shots to a minimum and didn’t get dragged into shenanigans that might cost two minutes or less in the penalty box, which is why they are moving on to the Eastern Conference final.
Once again, the Flyers are left to ponder what might have been. Once again, they had the second-best goaltender on the ice and the play of Ilya Bryzgalov will haunt many fans this summer. But what if Chris Pronger had not been concussed early in the season? What if Andrej Meszaros hadn’t missed so much time before returning? What if the Flyers had played with a modicum of discipline in the final game? Alas, none of this passed and the Flyers will go another season without glory.
1. Ilya Kovalchuk – The Devils sniper had the insurance goal and an assist on New Jersey’s first marker, but his consistent offensive efforts easily could have yielded more, if not for some pesky goalposts. The big Russian is earning his paycheck in the post-season.
2. Martin Brodeur – Sharp when he needed to be – especially on the 2-on-1s the Flyers did manage – Brodeur was also on point when it came to handling the puck, which has always been a specialty. Activating the Devils rush from Philly dump-ins was key to keeping the pressure on the Flyers.
3. Max Talbot – In a game where so many Flyers were either ineffective (Briere, van Riemsdyk) or invisible (Jagr), Talbot showed off his championship pedigree by notching the first goal and banging around the New Jersey end early when the game appeared to be heading the Flyers’ way.
Who do you think was the first star?
The Black Hole: Only Kimmo Timonen knows why he passed the puck back to Bryzgalov in the first place, but the netminder’s clutzy clear to David Clarkson gave New Jersey a lead it would never surrender. Bryce Salvador’s first goal for the Devils was a little deflating for the Flyers, but the Clarkson follow-up completely sucked the life out of the building. Philly needed stellar goaltending to stave off elimination; it didn’t happen.