Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Left Bloody on the Streets of Philadelphia

After a 5-0 win over the Dallas Stars last Wednesday, Devil fans were flying high and seeing that we could maybe make it through a stretch without Rolston and Holik. Then a desperate and angry 0-3-3 Flyers were next for a home-and-home over the weekend. What preceded was a good old fashioned whipping, as the Flyers won a 6-3 blowout at "The Rock" and a 3-2 OT loss Saturday in Philadelphia.

In the two games the Flyers and Devils combined for six fights and numerous bone crushing hits over the two games. The Flyers big strong and offensively talented forwards controlled and pushed the Devils defense around all weekend. The Flyers continually pounded the Devils defenseman and forwards every chance they got, which forced the Devils into being out of position, losing puck battles along the boards and allowing the big forwards of the Flyers to get to the net.

The Flyers top six forwards dominated the Devils defense charging the net, especially the trio of Jeff Carter (6'3"-200), Mike Knuble (6'3"-230) and Scott Hartnell (6'2"-210), who combined for seven of the nine Flyers goals on the weekend. Before this past weekend the trio has scored five goals in the teams first six games, four of which were scored by Carter. Add in Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Jordan Lupul and the Flyers top six forwards dominated the games and controlled the puck nearly the entire time.

The Devils got off to a quick start with a goal by Travis Zajac 45-seconds into the game, but then Jeff Carter responded 45-seconds later to tie the game and the Flyers seemed to control the weekend from then on. Zach Parise once again provided all the offense for the Devils. Parise contributed on four of the Devils five goals over the two games, accounting for four points (2G-2A). Parise now has 11 points in the first 8 games and part of the reason is the development of Travis Zajac who is second on the team with six points (1G-5A).

While Zajac and Parise have continued to impress, other players have struggled. Patrick Elias who scored two goals in the first two games, has not scored since Rolston went down and has only accounted for 3 assists since the Rolston injury. The Devils also lost Jamie Langenbrunner, who left half-way through the 6-3 loss to the Flyers after being hit from behind and into the boards by a Flyers player. Langenbrunner had struggled on the line with Parise and Zajac as he only had 1G-2A in the first seven games of the year.

The losses this weekend leave the Devils now at 5-2-1, but are 2-2-1 against their divisional opponents. They have a 3.00 GAA against divisional opponents and a 1.00 GAA against the rest of the league. With yet another injury to a top forward and Rolston and Holik put on IR, the Devils have called up Matt Hallischuk and Nicholas Bergfors from Lowell.

Team Notes:
- Devils play 9 of their next 11 games at home and 11 of their next 14 games are against non-divisional opponents.
- Matt Hallischuk and Nicholas Bergfors have been called up for Wednesday's game vs. Toronto. Hallischuk and Bergfors are tied for the team lead in points at Lowell. Halischuk has 5G-3A and Bergfors has 2G-6A. The question will be if we will see either on in the line-up or are they called up under and emergency status only? It would be a shame to bring them up and not see what they can do at the NHL level. If either player can stick and prove to be a NHL caliber player it may make a player like Brian Gionta and his salary available for a trade. Hallischuk will wear #10 and Bergfors #18.
- Matt Corrente the Devils first round pick in 2006 scored his first goal of the season with the Lowell Devils in heir 4-2 win over the Springfield Falcons on saturday night.

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