NHL Playoffs Picks Sunday 4/29: New Jersey Devils Philadelphia Flyers Game One
NHL Playoffs Second Round Picks and Predictions, Sunday 4/29: New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers Game One
The Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils played an exciting regular season series. They finished within a game of each other and are very evenly matched. Sure, the Flyers are a bunch of dirty, slew-footing bastards, but they took out the Penguins – that almost makes them okay in my book. Could you imagine another round of Sidney Crosby complaining?
New Jersey Devils (+150) at Philadelphia Flyers
These two teams were extremely competitive in the regular season. It was a New Jersey Devils loss in Philadelphia that spurred Ilya Bryzgalov’s magical run of shutout hockey, but that game immediately followed a dominant performance by the Devils at The Rock.
The Devils finished the regular season as the hottest team in hockey, winning their final six games. The Flyers coasted into the postseason, with their fate determined before their final game. However, once in the playoffs these two teams went in completely different directions. The Flyers dominated the Penguins in a series of sloppy, high-scoring, exciting games to win a series they were not expected to win. The Devils scraped past a “terrible” Florida Panthers team in double overtime in the seventh game of a series they were 2:1 favorites to win.
The Devils have only one advantage on the Flyers in my eyes. If Kovalchuk continues to play poorly, Claude Giroux is the most dynamic player on the ice and New Jersey can realistically only counter with Zach Parise. In terms of depth, the Devils don’t quite stack up to the skaters on the Flyers. Look for the Grossman line to challenge New Jersey’s top line. The Devils defense has been miserable in front of Martin Brodeur. Hockey’s greatest penalty kill ever was dominated by a mediocre Florida Panthers offense while the Flyers’ power play was nothing short of brilliant against the Penguins. Most signs point to the Flyers.
The reason the Devils have a chance is goaltending. The Flyers will get their chances, thanks mostly to a dilapidated blue line that New Jersey limps through the playoffs with. However, Martin Brodeur is playing extremely well. He kept them alive in the first overtime and end of the third period, almost by himself, to stave off elimination in Game Seven. There were countless rebounds and open shots, particularly in the first overtime, that were stopped by the best goaltender in hockey history. If he’s playing like vintage Brodeur, not much else will matter, and if it does the Devils still have a chance.
Is it really that unreasonable to sort of expect a Bryz-aster from the Flyers’ inconsistent goaltending? Vegas has the Devils line for the series at only +130. After their respective playoff series, I was expecting the Devils to be heavy underdogs. There’s reason to expect that Bryz won’t play well. The value is limited here, but it’s worth a small shot on a proven Devils team playing for their captain, their coach, and their legendary goaltender.
Devils 4 – Flyers 3
Playoffs: 31-19, Blues pending.
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