Quickly, as a disclaimer, the above title does not refer to the thorough New Jersey Devils victory from Wednesday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but more as a plea for New Jersey to stay out of the penalty box. The Devils won 3-2 and surrendered both goals on the power play, another of which came from Rangers über rookie Chris Kreider. The Devils controlled the play at even strength and set up shop in the Rangers' offensive zone often thanks to New York's passive shot-blocking system. New Jersey's two deflected goals, courtesy of Ryan Carter and the winner from David Clarkson, showed what their intentions are when it comes to beating Henrik Lundqvist, as it seems traffic will be flowing in front of him like it's Broad and Market in Newark.
The way New Jersey was able to control the flow of the game and win battles for the puck and pressure on the forecheck was starkly similar to the way in which the Devils dictated play to Philadelphia in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. New Jersey trailed in that game heading into the third period before winning 4-1. The Devils forecheck has been the driving force behind their postseason success and the Rangers will have to adapt quickly in Game 3, especially if the Devils can stay out of the penalty box.
Observations from Game 2
-Wednesday's 23 save effort from Martin Brodeur featured several outstanding saves where he challenged opposing shooters. He also made some iffy plays with handling the puck, a bit surprising.
-People don't realize how difficult the deflection David Clarkson made on the winning goal was. To tip a puck and change its direction that drastically is impressive. Clarkson has three goals in the playoffs, all of which have been game-winners.
-every team in the NHL should want to clone Ryan Callahan and Zach Parise; tireless work effort combined with skill and leadership make the two Americans some of the game's most exciting young players.
-The Rangers' will to block shots is impressive. It's understated how courageous a player needs to be to throw themselves at the puck like that. Also, I'm assuming John Tortorella ties ice time to how often players are willing to block shots in a Reggie Dunlop to Ned Braden sort of "you want ice time" way.
-have to love the DJ at Madison Square Garden with having heard "Lonely Boy" by The Black Keys and Rush's "Tom Sawyer" in the first two games. Of course NBC Sports had to ruin the listening to of the former by playing Nickelback heading into commercial.
-This Devils team is reminding me much of the 2000 and 2001 editions of the Devils with their depth at forward, however one will hardly mistake Mark Fayne, Andy Greene and Bryce Salvador with Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer and Brian Rafalski.
-The Devils "No Blue" marketing campaign geared toward getting Devils' fans to buy up tickets to games at The Rock does have a certain Arrested Development feel to it; there's got to be a better way to say that, Devils.
-Game 3 prediction...Devils 3, Rangers 1; Kovalchuk, Zubrus and Sykora for the Devils and Del Zotto for the Rangers.