Even, heading home
The one aspect I loved about the series opener was the fact that I didn't give up on it -- and couldn't see why anyone would -- until goal #5 was scored by the New Jersey Devils. No, I'm not going to take digs at Holmqvist. Not justified at this point. We're heading to game 3 and the point I want to make was further enforced in game 2.
Again, you couldn't give up on the game. You were on the edge of your seat throughout when someone scored because you figured the other team would answer... It was back and forth like that. During the season, it's infuriating to see the Devils play that style because it puts you to sleep. Now? You have seven games to beat them and every moment counts.
Watching them tonight reminded me of something though. I'm making an ill comparison so I apologize to the hockey world but watching New Jersey work tonight and knowing how they played in game one, I thought back to the NFL and the the days of yore with the other llocal team who could stifle fans with boredom while dominating on defense. Yeah, the Bucs.
The Devils system isn't complex but it has to be -- and is -- run well. You need to utilize the basics and clog the lanes... And if THAT doesn't stop you dead in your tracks, there is Martin Brodeur as the last line of defense. A goalie that just about any team would be pleased to have as their backstop.
But just like the Bucs, the Devils are mortal. They thrive on mistakes and you need to thrive by not making them and keeping the puck out of your zone as much as possible. The offense is proficient, not overpowering. The scheme to limit offensive production from opponents and stifle shots is what gives them an advantage - but not impossible to overcome it.
And while I praise how well the Devils run their system, it's also the reason why Martin Brodeur isn't deserving of the Hart (or Conn Smythe, as this is playoff hockey). You can just look west and what Roberto Luongo has done in 2 games compared to Brodeur in his two (103 shots faced, 97 saves as to 46 shots and 40 saves). The system limits shots, and therefore limits risks. Make the saves you must and you're home free.
But I digress. This doesn't talk at al about game #2 does it? Not Martin St. Louis' full-damn-body check attempt, not his out-of-thin-air goal; not Jason Ward assisting on that game tying goal... Nor does it talk about the teams showing a little bit of ill will towards each other -- much more evident in the 1st and 3rd periods -- but not to the point they came to blows.
3-2 from the Meadowlands tonight... Times Palace is the destination of games #3 and #4, with the opportunity to take the series lead.