DEVILS LEAD FLYERS 2-1
AlexeiÂ Ponikarovsky and the New Jersey Devils have the favorite Philadelphia Flyers in a 2-1 hole.
Ponikarovsky scored the OT winner putting home his own rebound on a 2-on-1 rush giving New Jersey a 4-3 OT win on Thursday night and a 2-1 series lead.
Ilya Kovalchuk reportedly playing with a herniated disk in his back, had a goal and two assists in his return to the lineup and set up Ponikarovsky’s tally with 2:39 left in overtime as Kovalchuk caught the Flyers on a horrible change. Kovalchuk was exceptional in the game dictating the play, as was Zach Parise who was a force in the offensive zone.
The storyline for the Flyers in the loss was their struggling power play that failed to convert two golden power play chances in overtime.
The Devils who struggled in Game 1 on the PK and gave up a power play in the first period, made in game adjustments which makes Pittsburgh’s struggles against Philadelphia even worse. The Devils were very aggressive in not letting Philadelphia create an effective zone presence but the key for them was their rotation.
LATEST NHL BUZZ/RUMORS
— The Devils have surprisingly matched up much better against Philadelphia than I thought they would and the Devils blueline has really evolved this series. On paper it’s not a typical Devils blueline from their glory days but they have come together as a group.
— Clutching and obstruction was widespread in last night’s game and while the Flyers are doing it too, it favored New Jersey last night as the ability to obstruct the Flyers on the forecheck is a big factor in slowing them down. Philadelphia is at their best when they get pucks behind the oppositions D.
— The LA Kings lead the St. Louis Blues 3-0 in the series and it’s all coming together for a talented Kings group that matches up extremely well against the rest of the field in the West and East. LA is emerging as the Cup favorite.
— The Philadelphia Flyers have been involved negotiations on a one year deal for Jaromir Jagr but one report says defenseman Matt Carle is the top priority over Jagr if it came to one or the other. That’s a no brainer from the standpoint of Carle being 27 and Jagr being 40.
Although the Flyers want to retain Jagr and he has been a big addition on the ice and in the locker room, Philadelphia should strongly considering not bringing Jagr back and if they do, nowhere near his $3.3 million salary. It’s one of those situations the Flyers should look at it that they got the most out of him and move on. Jagr has already dropped off the top-2 lines.
Meanwhile, Carle will be a coveted defenseman if he hits the open market. He logs big minutes, can skate, move the puck well and is an excellent shot blocker, leading the Flyers with 164 blocked shots during the regular season. He’s a player who fit great in Dan Bylsma’s system and fill a big void from a shot blocking standpoint if the cap space was ever there for Pittsburgh this summer.
— There’s some individuals in hockey circles who feel the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning will be the front runners for Roberto Luongo and that both teams should take the chance on him if they believe he has another four to five All-Star type seasons in him. However, a sleeper team to watch out for will be the New Jersey Devils if Marty Brodeur decides to hang em up.
— The mainstream media has already picked up on the Jordan Staal speculation. Excellent Canes beat writer Chip Alexander wrote about Staal in the News and Observer writing:
“The Carolina Hurricanes are looking for a top-tier forward to play on a line with captain Eric Staal.
What about Jordan Staal?
For now, itâs little but speculation. Jordan Staal, one of the three Staal brothers in the NHL, has a year left on his contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. No one with the Hurricanes can speak publicly about him lest they be accused of tampering.
But if the Pens do decide to trade Staal, 23, itâs believed the Canes would be interested. Staal, who won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009, scored 25 goals and had a career-high 50 points last season and is one of the NHLâs best two-way centers.
Canes general manager Jim Rutherford discussed in general terms what the Canes are looking for in the offseason Wednesday. Rutherford has talked several times about the need to acquire a scoring winger to play on center Eric Staalâs line, but the teamâs focus may have shifted.
âWhat weâre working on now is whatever it takes to get a top player, whether itâs a center or a wing,â Rutherford said. âEric can play the wing. He has played the wing before and played there in the (2010) Olympics (for Canada). He has played very well on the wing.â
Alexander hints that the Canes No. 8 overall pick could be in play for Staal this summer. The big question in Pens circles is whether Pens GM Ray Shero would even consider moving Staal at the draft before he can negotiate with Staal on July 1. Many have their doubts.