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2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs 1st Round, Game 4 Preview: New Jersey Devils at Philadelphia Flyers

Let's do some more of this tonight in Philadelphia, Devils!(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Let's do some more of this tonight in Philadelphia, Devils!(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Time: 7:30 PM EDT/4:30 PM PDT

The Broadcast: TV: MSG+(HD) & TSN2; Radio: 1130 AM Bloomberg

The Official Watch Parties: Two locales for an important game. If you're 21 or over, why not watch the game with your fellow Devils fans: Rella's in Brielle and Park East in Hazlet.

The Goal: The Philadelphia Flyers lead the series 2-1. The New Jersey Devils need to win.

The Ramifications of a Devils Win: Ties the series up and makes it a best-of-3 with two games in Newark.

The Ramifications of a Devils Loss: We're praying for a repeat of the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals.

The Captain Needs to Step Up: I explain why here.

But Really, the Whole Team Except Brodeur Has to Raise their Game:  For the unaware, a recap of Game 3.  For those who didn't read that, let me summarize: it was a game where the Devils missed the net and were blocked twice as much as they had shots on net, a game where they went into a third period and overtime tied but came out with little-to-no effort to take the lead, and, among other facts, a game where they couldn't figure out that the refs were calling things tight despite the Flyers taking 4 straight legit calls in the first period.   It was not a good performance outside of Martin Brodeur being magnificent (and if you want to be really generous, Dainius Zubrus and Brian Rolston weren't so terrible).

Why Doesn't Brodeur Have to Raise His Game? Because he already has in this series.

The Devils do have to play much better tonight.  The team had a meeting on Monday to sort out what went wrong and what they need to do, per Tom Gulitti's post.  Let's hope the action follows the words.

Believe it or not, I have some positive perspective after the jump.

One of the more sobering takes from Game 3 comes from Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy.  The only part I disagree with is that Brodeur has been "maligned, and rightfully so, for inconsistent playoff performances;" but he's right.  We don't know what team will show up for tonight's game between what we saw just before the playoffs, and what we saw in each of the three playoff games so far.

But let's take a step back.  The Flyers won Game 1, 2-1, with the Devils pulling out a late lifeline and just couldn't get the bounce to tie it up in the final minutes.  The Devils won Game 2, 5-3, with the Devils scoring a third period goal to take the lead and put in an empty-netter to ice it in the final minute.  The Flyers won Game 3, 3-2, in overtime.  Despite how poor the Devils have been in those three games, what they didn't do right, what they should have done better in each game, and so forth, they've all been very close games.   Maybe they should have been blown out of Game 3; but they weren't. That says as much about the Flyers as it does about the Devils.

The series is only 2-1.  A win will be difficult but no one is saying it's impossible.  Wyshynski is right to be skeptical about which Devils team will show up for tonight and in future games; but it is entirely possible that the Devils can equalize the first round and regain home ice.   Yes, tonight's important, but that fact means that nothing is decided just yet. Let's not act as if everything's lost. Thanks to a very smart man for illuminating that to me earlier on Monday.

Needless to say, in asking for a win, I want a lot.  I wan hustle, I want heart, I want smart plays, I want smart discipline, I want the Devils striking hard when Chris Pronger isn't on the ice, I want the Devils to play classier than the Honorless Captain Mike Richards, I want the Actor Daniel Carcillo to get called for his acting, I want more shots on Brian Boucher, I want more scoring chances on Boucher, and I want the Devils to be able to attack through the neutral zone and actually aim a bit when they try passing or shooting the puck.    I believe this is what the Devils want to see in that it could and perhaps should lead to a win in Game 4.

Let's hope we see a Devils win tonight regardless.

A Wild Guess at the Lineup:  I don't think Game 3 was totally lost by the lineup, though I'd be surprised if Martin Skoula isn't back in the lineup in place of Mark Fraser.  Sure, Fraser got wrecked on the second goal against in Game 3; but I think he was put into the lineup to be more physical on the blueline and he wasn't.  I doubt Jacques Lemaire will make any other changes in terms of who's in and who's out; but I wouldn't write these lines down in pen for Game 4.

Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Ilya Kovalchuk - Travis Zajac - Jamie Langenbrunner
Brian Rolston - Rob Niedermayer - David Clarkson
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond - Dean McAmmond - Matthew Corrente

Paul Martin - Andy Greene
Colin White - Mike Mottau
Martin Skoula - Bryce Salvador

Martin Brodeur
Yann Danis

Either way, it's a big night tonight.  Will the Devils avoid death and take glory in Philadelphia? Let's hope so.  Steve's off tonight, so please join me in the GameThread this evening.  In the meantime, please leave your thoughts, concerns, complaints, corrections, compliments, news updates (with links), and feelings about tonight's game in the comments to this post. Go Devils!