So the Flyers are off to a strong start, huh?
Last night’s 2-1 win over the Devils was fascinating.
Boucher has been solid in his recent starts, even doing a great job in very tight games, when it looks like the Flyers might not ever score. Either Boucher always believes his team will find scoring or low-scoring games don’t bother him. He looked completely relaxed last night, like he was born starting in the playoffs.
And how good was the Flyers Chris Pronger-Matt Carle pair? I’m sure there were moments they weren’t on the ice, but I can’t recall any.
In general, the Flyers took away the Devils speed. Plus, the Flyers play a genuine puck possession game. I didn’t see many turnovers. And the defensemen use short passes out of their own zone to make sure the Flyers hold onto the puck. It’s almost like Peter Laviolette didn’t get the memo that the new NHL is all about the stretch pass.
But as good as the Flyers defense was, a huge part of their victory was that New Jersey’s lines still aren’t clicking, despite Devils coach Jacques Lemaire moving them around a bit. Basically, the Devils still don’t seem to know how to play with Ilya Kovalchuk.
It doesn’t help that opposing teams play him tight and take away his passing lanes, forcing him to pass the puck up to the point, where the Devils don’t really have a threat. Lemaire might want to seriously consider rotating forwards to the point at even strength to give Kovalchuk some support. A booming point shot might keep defenses more honest. It also gives Kovalchuk the chance to spring himself immediately after the big shot.
Lemaire has also picked a strange time to alienate key players. Before the playoffs, he scratched Jamie Langenbrunner for no reason (Langenbrunner claims he’s over it). Last night, Jay Pandolfo, veteran of 123 consecutive Devils playoff games, was a healthy scratch.
I can’t imagine Pandolfo’s teammates were too thrilled to see him at the game in a suit. You have to wonder if Lemaire is breeding unnecessary resentment at the most important point in the season, so far. Of course, every player earns ice time and doesn’t intrinsically deserve it based upon years of service, but why bench a solid defensive player who’s served the franchise well and hasn’t given you any reason not to play him?
I’m starting to think Lemaire really likes drama. Either that, or he has no idea how human emotions work.