Despite nearly being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs thanks to their terrible play early on, the Devils are proving to be the most dangerous teams of late and showed that with a 4-2 win over the Flyers on Friday.
New Jersey controlled the puck for the majority of the game. They had the better of the offensive pressure, forecheck, and cycling.
The Flyers opted for one-and-done chances, taking the shot off the rush instead of setting up and moving the puck around.
Despite their differing offenses throughout the game – with the Devils’ clearly producing more chances – the two teams’ goals were scored in unexpected ways.
The four New Jersey goals – three of which came off the stick of Flyer killer Patrick Elias – were scored off the rush. The Flyers’ second goal, a Jeff Carter tally in the third, came after prolonged pressure and cycling by his line of Claude Giroux and Nikolay Zherdev.
After jumping out to a first period lead thanks to an impressive deflection by New Jersey native James van Riemsdyk for his 20th of the year, the Flyers found themselves unable to crack goaltender Johan Hedberg.
They simply didn’t move the puck enough. Too many of their shots were single chances before the Devils cleared the puck. Since they didn’t set up and move around, the Flyers’ players weren’t in position for rebounds.
This isn’t a good showing for a team as talented and hyped as the Flyers. They produced enough shots that they may walk away from this game with the sense that they played a successful game, but the chances just didn’t go their way.
That’s not the case.
The Flyers can’t win games playing like this. And that’s something they’ll need to turn around before the playoffs start.
But while this kind of showing is disappointing, it’s not something to worry too much about – the Flyers are notorious for weak play in March.
Last year, their sub-.500 record nearly cost them a playoff spot. This year, it’s just putting them at risk of dropping to a 2nd seed. While that’s something they’d like to avoid, it’s not something that will do much to change their playoff hopes.