Game in a Sentence:
The Florida Panthers were the stronger team from the outset and capitalized on New Jersey’s errors to take a 3-2 series lead and send the match up back to New Jersey with a lead.
- The Panthers had their strongest start to the series as I saw it and really put the Devils up against it on the road. I know the shots were even through a period, but realistically I can’t think of a point where the Devils looked to be in better shape than the Panthers did.
- I’ll hit this right off the bat while it’s on my mind: I love the personal rivalry brewing between Erik Gudbranson and David Clarkson. Playoff series are always more entertaining for me when I get to watch specific players go at it and push each other before they’re forced to shake ends at the end of it all. Love watching these guys battle.
- Both teams really mucked up the middle of the rink but tested each other down the wings with good speed. It’s been a tough series for centermen to make an impact – Stephen Weiss has probably been the best but that’s because he has been moving around. Either way, it has been a good showcase for the wingers in this series and tonight was more of that. Every scoring chance seemed to come off the wing.
- On that note, tonight was the best game of the series from Kris Versteeg. You noticed him every time he was on the ice, he was great offensively and showed a burst that seemed to have been missing for some time. Again, I’ve been harping on this, but he’s another case of one of Florida’s playoff veterans stepping up.
- The Devils really shot themselves in the foot throughout the game as they gifted the Panthers six power plays due to calls that are mostly caused by laziness or stupidity. When a team isn’t giving way to you as it is, you can’t be taking stupid penalties.
- The second period was really the tipping point for this game. Four Devils penalties leading to the Panthers doubling up the shots on goal. Even though only the one goal had been scored, the momentum was squarely in favor of the Panthers.
- Florida did well considering that Jason Garrison – arguably their best defenceman – was out of the lineup for the second time this series. If the Panthers win this series, he’ll need to come back for them to have any hope of moving further.
- Say what you will about Ilya Kovalchuk but the guy is trying to make things happen and they just aren’t. You notice him around the puck, he’s getting shots off, he’s possessing the puck and he’s generating chances. It looks a lot to me like Radulov had early in the Detroit series – playing decent hockey, just out of synch with his linemates. The Devils need to find a way to free him up a bit.
- My vote for best Devils player this series goes to Zach Parise. It’s pretty evident that he’s trying to will this team to a victory and it’s just not happening for him. Looks a lot like Giroux at the end of game five between Philly and Pittsburgh.
- Marty Brodeur was solid tonight even if he looked bad on the second goal, that was just bad communication between him and Salvador. Personally, I’m willing to put more of that on the defenseman given how leisurely he was getting back under the forechecking pressure. In a one goal game, you need to be on your horse there. All in all, he made some great stops in this one and gave his team a chance to win.
- Jose Theodore rebounded really well from his benching in game four and shut the door down hard on New Jersey’s attack. They didn’t get many scoring chances, but the ones they did were met squarely by Theodore who was good in the cage. I didn’t agree with him being sat behind Clemmensen and I’m glad he rebounded so well.
- This series has to be going seven at this point, no? I say it is.
My Three Stars:
1) Jose Theodore
2) Kris Versteeg
3) Mike Weaver