|Jersey be-Devils Flyers|
|Written by Denis Gorman|
|Wednesday, 09 May 2012 00:31|
Unlike the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were content to trade chances and punches with the Philadelphia Flyers during the captivating Keystone State Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, the New Jersey Devils imposed their will on the Flyers.History books will teach that the 2011-12 New Jersey Devils qualified for the NHL's Eastern Conference Final at 10:06 p.m. on the night of May, 8, 2012.
Truth is, the Devils became the third team to reach the NHL's Final Four at the 19:56 mark of the second period Sunday night.
It was in that infinitesimal moment that the Philadelphia Flyers' Claude Giroux, whom coach Peter Laviolette declared "the best player in the world" a mere fortnight prior, ended the Eastern Conference semifinal series for all intents and purposes with a nasty -- and ultimately penalized and subsequently suspendable -- shoulder to the head of Devils forward Dainius Zubrus.
That the Devils did not score on the man advantage is irrelevant. What is relevant was the overriding unspoken message that Giroux's shoulder sent:
The Flyers could not beat the Devils so they were relegated to beating them up.
The Devils reached the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2003 after eliminating the Flyers 3-1 in Game 5 Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Bryce Salvador, David Clarkson and Ilya Kovalchuk scored for the Devils in the clinching game. Martin Brodeur made 27 saves.
"We know what we're capable of when we play the right way and do the right things out there," Zach Parise said after the Devils' 4-2 win Sunday night.
Unlike Pittsburgh, which was content to trade chances and punches with Philadelphia during the captivating Keystone State Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, the Devils imposed their will on the Flyers.
Philadelphia scored 30 goals in the six games against Pittsburgh. The Flyers hit the back of the net just 11 times against New Jersey.
The Devils did not trap the neutral zone, as the franchise's history would dictate. Instead, the Devils forechecked and cycled -- really, they played keep away -- and challenged the Flyers to defend. They could not.
"It's puck possession," Brodeur said Sunday night. "That's the bottom line. We're doing well defensively but we don't spend time in their zone. We're spending good quality minutes in the offensive zone. Against a team like that, you want to keep the puck in their zone; you have to shoot the puck. That's what we did and that's what we've been doing."
What the Devils did not do was get involved in extracurricular shenanigans. They literally laughed as the Flyers seethed and commited incomprehensible acts of immaturity.
"That's why we've been preaching so much about discipline," Brodeur said. "Turning the cheek away, not getting into scrums. It's not worth it."
Added Parise: "We've done a good job all series staying away from that stuff. That's not our focus."
The goal is the same as it has always been: The Stanley Cup. Now the Devils are four wins away from qualifying for the fifth Cup Final appearance in franchise history.
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Photos by Getty Images
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 02:01|