NHL

Smart hockey lifts Devils past Flyers

Watch highlights of the Devils' 3-1 win over the Flyers. New Jersey wins the series 4-1.
Watch highlights of the Devils' 3-1 win over the Flyers. New Jersey wins the series 4-1.
Hockey Primetime Denis Gorman
Share This Story

   
 

History books will teach that the 2011-12 New Jersey Devils qualified for the National Hockey League's Eastern Conference final at 10:06 p.m. ET on the night of May, 8, 2012.

Truth is, the Devils became the third team to reach the NHL's final four at the 19:56 mark of the second period Sunday night.

It was in that infinitesimal moment that Flyers center Claude Giroux, whom his coach Peter Laviolette declared "the best player in the world" a mere fortnight prior, ended the Eastern Conference semifinal series for all intents and purposes with a nasty — and ultimately penalized and subsequently suspendable — shoulder to the head of Devils forward Dainius Zubrus.

That the Devils did not score on the man advantage is irrelevant. What is relevant was the overriding unspoken message that Giroux's shoulder sent:

The Flyers could not beat the Devils so they were relegated to beating them up.

The Devils reached the Eastern Conference final for the first time since 2003 after eliminating the Flyers in Game 5 on Tuesday night with a 3-1 win at the Wells Fargo Center. Bryce Salvador, David Clarkson and Ilya Kovalchuk scored for the Devils in the clinching game. Martin Brodeur made 27 saves.

''It was just sticking with the game plan and doing what it takes to be successful,'' Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. ''Marty made some saves when he needed to, and we held on.''

Unlike Pittsburgh, which was content to trade chances and punches with Philadelphia during their captivating all-Keystone State series in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the Devils imposed their will on the Flyers.

Philadelphia scored 30 goals in the six games against Pittsburgh. The Flyers hit the back of the net just 11 times against New Jersey.

The Devils did not trap the neutral zone, as the franchise's history would dictate. Instead, the Devils forechecked and cycled — really, they played keep away — and challenged the Flyers to defend. They could not.

''The fact that we have four lines and roll six defensemen really helps,'' DeBoer said. ''It's a team game. We play that way, and guys really believe in what we're doing. But that's a good team we just beat over there, and we have a long way to go.''

What the Devils did not do was get involved in extra-curricular shenanigans. They literally laughed as the Flyers seethed and committed incomprehensible acts of immaturity.

''It seems forever for a lot of guys,'' Brodeur said. ''It's tough to do that. We're fortunate to have made it there so far.''

The goal is the same as it has always been: The Stanley Cup. Now the Devils are four wins away from qualifying for the fifth Cup final appearance in franchise history.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

You can follow Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman

Tagged: Devils, Flyers, Martin Brodeur

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



Play Hockey Simulation Game on WhatIfSports

NHL Videos

LA mayor at Kings rally: 'This is a big f**king day!' Posted: Jun 17, 2014
Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti toasts the Stanley Cup champion Kings in front o...

Kings, fans celebrate Stanley Cup Posted: Jun 16, 2014
Kings players celebrate winning the Stanley Cup with a parade through downtown L...

Martinez scores game-winner to lead Kings to Cup Posted: Jun 14, 2014
Alec Martinez talk about scoring in double-overtime to secure the Stanley Cup f...

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Pittsburgh_Penguins/browse/featuredproduct/175178/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_175000/FF_175178_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Premier Hockey Jersey - Black
    Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Dallas_Stars/browse/featuredproduct/243363/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_243000/FF_243363_xl.jpg&w=100 124.95 Reebok Dallas Stars White Premier Hockey Jersey
    Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Tampa_Bay_Lightning/browse/featuredproduct/301017/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_301000/ff_301017_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Reebok Tampa Bay Lightning Primary Logo T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Anaheim_Ducks/browse/featuredproduct/398322/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_398000/FF_398322_xl.jpg&w=100 43.99 Majestic Anaheim Ducks Black Official Logo Full Zip Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Detroit_Red_Wings/browse/featuredproduct/403205/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_403000/FF_403205_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Detroit Red Wings Youth Black Southpaw Backpack
    Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Chicago_Blackhawks/browse/featuredproduct/408123/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_408000/FF_408123_xl.jpg&w=100 159.95 Reebok Chicago Blackhawks #88 Patrick Kane Red Premier Hockey Jersey
    Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_Jersey_Devils/browse/featuredproduct/456774/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_456000/ff_456774_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New Jersey Devils Red Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt
    Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Vancouver_Canucks/browse/featuredproduct/665779/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_665000/ff_665779_xl.jpg&w=100 11.95 Vancouver Canucks 2011 NHL Western Conference Champions Hockey Stick
    Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_New_York_Islanders/browse/featuredproduct/752594/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_752000/ff_752594_xl.jpg&w=100 47.99 Majestic New York Islanders Royal Blue Felt Tek Patch Pullover Hoodie Sweatshirt