First and more important than anything that I could write about this game: On the behalf of everyone at All About the Jersey, we hope and wish the best for goaltender Michal Neuvirth. Neuvirth collapsed on his own prior to a faceoff in the first period. It was a scary sight as he just went down on his back. The good signs is that he appeared alert and his limbs were moving as he left the game on a stretcher. As I understand it, he was transported to a hospital, where he is being evaluated. We hope he recovers fully in the near future.
That said, let’s get into the game. The New Jersey Devils went into Philadelphia with a five-game losing streak. Any thought of the Devils having the Flyers’ number was dashed tonight. The Philadelphia Flyers went up on the Devils early and never looked back in a game filled with shots (73 between the two teams, Flyers led 41-32), attempts (123 in total, Flyers led 64-59), and penalties (82 minutes assessed, 42 for New Jersey, 40 for Philadelphia). The Devils left Philly with a 0-3 loss, their sixth straight ‘L.’
As nasty as the rivalry game got tonight, there wasn’t a real sense the Devils were in the game. For starters, the Devils went down 0-2 to Philadelphia fairly early. The first goal occurred when Travis Zajac was serving a call for hooking Jordan Weal. Claude Giroux fired a shot from the right circle and Cory Schneider saved it. The puck went behind the net and caromed off the endboards right to a cutting Brayden Schenn. Schenn couldn’t miss on Schneider’s left flank and so he didn’t for the PPG. After eleven minutes into the first period, Colin McDonald headed up ice and pulled off a big move for his first goal of the season. He burst past Andy Greene, cut to the net, went around Schneider - who dove at the puck and missed - and scored. It put the Flyers up two scores and brought life back into the arena after Neuvirth left the game. The run of play favored the Flyers despite their lead.
Things began to get out of control right at the end of the first period. Sean Couturier made a move to the net and Blake Coleman up-ended him so he crashed hard into Cory Schneider. (I thought Couturier turned into Kreider live, I was wrong.) Coleman then started a big scrum out of protection - that he didn’t provide earlier. The Flyers did not score on the power play in the second period, but that physical altercation and tempers flared far more in the second period.
The most foolish of this sequence effectively ended with the nail into the Devils’ proverbial coffin in tonight’s game. First, Radko Gudas hit John Quenneville high. There was no call. Dalton Prout jumps on the ice for his shift and makes a beeline to level an unaware Gudas in the neutral zone. As Gudas is in a heap and in pain, Prout and Wayne Simmonds have a fight. The end result: Gudas left the game for a part of the period, fighting majors for both, a five-minute major for interference for the wreckless hit on Gudas, and Prout being kicked out of the game with a game misconduct. Nineteen seconds into that five-minute penalty kill, Dale Weise blindsides Kyle Palmieri into the stanchion at New Jersey’s bench. Travis Zajac charged right at Weise in order to stick up for his fallen teammate. Palmieri ended up being fine; Weise was given five minutes for boarding and was kicked out with a misconduct of his own; and Zajac received two minutes for roughing for his not-fight with Weise. This meant the Flyers had a 4-on-3 power play for two minutes. As that was running out, Blake Coleman was stickless and John Moore and Damon Severson were caught in the middle. A Jakub Voracek shot hits off the bodies in front and Jordan Weal slams in the rebound from the right side to make it 0-3. Not that the Devils were in the process of a comeback, but the goal made the hole far too deep for the Devils to crawl out from. Ultimately, the Devils paid for their penalties in that violent sequence of events.
The violent acts subsided afterwards. However, the bad feelings continued through the game. They culminated in two more sets of calls in the third period. First, there were matching unsportsmanlike penalties for Brandon Manning and Adam Henrique. Second, there were roughing minors and game misconducts assessed to Miles Wood and Simmonds after Wood shoved Andy MacDonald after a frozen puck. These two teams clearly don’t like each other and I hope the referees assigned for the rematch on Tuesday are prepared to keep things in order. Eric Furlatt and Justin St. Pierre made an effort they could tonight, but 82 total penalty minutes points to this rivalry remaining hot.
As far as the score goes, again, the Devils were shut out. This was largely the work of Anthony Stolarz. Steve Mason was originally planned to be the backup tonight, but he was sick so Stolarz was a late call up. As in, he just arrived to the bench at the start of the game. After Neuvirth collapsed, Stolarz entered the game. He was annoyingly sensational in stopping twenty-six shots by the Devils. He was beaten only one time. Int he third period, Andy Greene tried to find John Quenneville cutting to the net. Quenneville was covered-ish by Giroux. The pass went off Giroux and past Stolarz. However, that play was wiped out. Dave Hakstol challenged the play for offside and Quenneville was inside the blueline before the puck crossed it. The goal was overturned. Even so, that would have been an own goal. Stolarz came in a difficult situation, not even expecting to be at the game at the dawn of today and then comes in and fends off plenty of chances and shots by the Devils. It’s a shame that since Stolarz was perfect, Neuvirth will get credit for the win as he was in net for the game deciding goal: the Schenn goal.
There are two reasons why this makes this loss feel lower than the other five that preceded it. First, it’s from the Flyers. That’s revolting enough. Second, the Flyers just out-did the Devils for the most part beyond just scoring three and allowing none. They took control of the play early on. They took more shots on net. They generated more attempts in all situations. They likely had more scoring chances. Even with all of the violence, the Flyers came out ahead with that Weal PPG. The Flyers’ top players made impacts. Only Schneider really did - 38 saves on 41 shots is a good night for any goalie, although I’ll agree that McDonald goal was a poor one - on New Jersey’s end as the Zajac line wasn’t so hot. It was a game that got away from the Devils early. After an agonizing miss on a rebound opportunity by Damon Severson in the second period (a play that Severson helped create), I just thought, “A shutout is probably going to happen,” and despite the Devils’ effort, it did.
Despite all of the events, shots, acts of violence (or “standing up for your teammate,” depending on your perspective), beefs, and so forth, the Devils lost in a big, decisive fashion to their second-biggest rivals. It’s not a good feeling at all even if you’re pro-tank. Unfortunately, the loss-streaking Devils
4 games left.
The Game Stats: The NHL.com Game Summary | The NHL.com Event Summary | The NHL.com Play by Play Log | The NHL.com Shot Summary | The NHL.com Shift Chart | The Natural Stat Trick Game Stats | The HockeyStats.ca Game Stats
The Opposition Opinion: Kurt R. at Broad Street Hockey is surprised with how the game went on.
The Best Devils Skaters: This was a fine night by Adam Henrique, Quenneville, and Michael Cammalleri. Cammalleri drew a penalty and had three shots. Quenneville had three shots on net, including one that created a rebound that Severson wishes he finished. Henrique was effective in his matchup. These three were good in the run of play that wasn’t really tilted in New Jersey’s favor until the third period when the game was well out of doubt. Big miss aside, I thought Severson played a good game too. I also was impressed that Michael Kapla received nearly twenty minutes. I don’t think he quite fits in on the power play, which had its up and downs, yet. But this is the best time as any to try out new things, like Coleman, Moore, and Severson as penalty killers in a 3-on-4 situation.
The Top Flyers: Other than Stolarz, I was rather impressed with Schenn and Giroux, who each had six shots on net. Schneider did very well to limit their involvement on the scoresheet to just the first power play goal. Jordan Weal, who scored the second power play goal, provided positive, useful spark with four shots on net in limited action. Those three stuck out to me.
Faced Off: I normally don’t make a big deal out of faceoffs, but the Flyers just owned the Devils at the dot tonight. Giroux won 22 out of 26 draws, Valterri Filppula went 10 for 12, and Weal won all five of his draws. In total, the Flyers won 51 faceoffs to New Jersey’s 20. No, it wasn’t the difference maker tonight; but it’s another area of how the Flyers were just better than New Jersey tonight.
Ugh: I’ve never been a fan of fighting or the concept of “sticking up for a teammate,” especially in this day and age where fights occur over the seemingly unpardonable action of throwing a bodycheck. While I can understand Zajac’s decision, I still don’t get Prout’s. OK, so Gudas does what Gudas usually does and toe the line of what is and isn’t good. It’d be one thing if Prout would just throw a hard bodycheck when appropriate. I don’t see how Quenneville was any more or less protected by crushing an unaware Gudas and then fighting Simmonds, who didn’t do anything outside of two shots on net and getting tossed. If Weise wasn’t an idiot himself, then the Flyers would have had five minutes to just pick on the Devils for more goals. Moreover, with Prout’s misconduct, the Devils spent over half of the game with five defensemen. That hurt. The Devils allowed 41 shots on net and that was a reason why. Therefore, forgive me for not really being proud of Prout or declare that he’s a real Devil like Dano did in the postgame.
The sad thing is that Prout came in for Steve Santini as Jon Merrill was scratched again. Surely, John Hynes knows that at this point of the season, a Kapla-Santini pairing is perfectly fine to use.
Slow Down: Miles Wood went shoulder first into the boards in the third period. I think he was tripped up; it happened on a play where was stretching to make something positive happen for the first time in his night tonight. Wood did return, only to start a beef with MacDonald before engaging further with Simmonds. Wood didn’t do much of anything tonight and I’ll echo the MSG+ broadcast that Wood needs to slow down to better preserve himself. His speed is a weapon but it’ll be more of one when he can control it.
Nope: With Stolarz in the game, a designated emergency backup took to the bench for the Flyers. At a stoppage with about 25 seconds left, the Flyers tried to get said backup into the game. The referees correctly denied the substitution. He is a backup for emergency purposes. Bringing him in to have three guys share a shutout over the Devils isn’t an emergency. The 0-3 loss is bad enough; there is no need to have a “first” like three goalies sharing a shutout win to pour on further misery.
The Sherman Abrams Section: Well, Sherman Abrams is happy the Devils didn’t do a crazy thing like winning tonight. The Devils remain in 28th with their biggest competition still a mere point ahead of them: Vancouver. The Canucks did lose on Friday night, so the goal is simple: hope the Devils extend their losing streak and hope the Canucks start winning and/or getting points. As the season is near the end, there isn’t as much scoreboard watching for Mr. Abrams and his supporters. Dallas won to further take themselves away of the race of 28th. Detroit lost in regulation, but with a six point lead on New Jersey, they’ll need some help to have a real shot at it. Arizona curiously beat Washington on Friday; a win tomorrow would make the last few days a bit more interesting beyond focusing on two teams.
One Last Thought: I hope the referees on Tuesday are really prepared.
Your Take: The Devils lost their sixth in a row to the Second Rate Rivals and did so in a decisive fashion that was about as much fun to watch as watching your washer and dryer do laundry. What did you make of the game? Who was the best or the worst on the Devils in your eyes? What do you expect for Tuesday? Should you even want the Devils to get a win as revenge on Tuesday? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this loss in the comments.
Thanks to everyone who commented in the Gamethread and/or followed along on Twitter with @AAtJerseyBlog. Thank you for reading.