By Tim Panaccio in Philadelphia
So now you have to ask yourself whether Peter DeBoer's New Jersey Devils can actually take advantage of having regained home ice against the Philadelphia Flyers and get a sweep at home.
That they handled the Flyers so easily in Game 2 of the NHL Eastern Conference semifinal without sniper Ilya Kovalchuk was eye-opening, to say the least.
"The more we win, the less pressure there is on him to come back," Marty Brodeur said. "We all talked to him [about not pushing it], but he's a big boy. He's one of the best players in the game and we have to rally when he's not in there. We did that.
The Devils dominated the Flyers in every sense of the word.
"I think that it was one of our better games, all-around games, that we played," said veteran swing forward Petr Sykora.
"Everybody played well. We played well defensively, we played well offensively, PKs, power play was good -- even though we didn't score, we moved the puck a lot - and good attitude.
"When you have that, good things happen. We're glad coming home from this building one game apiece. This is a tough building to get a win in.
We're happy about it and we'll get ready for Thursday."
Devils had a complete day off from skating on Wednesday. Coach Peter DeBoer said that Ilya Kovachuk was feeling a little better.
"I just met with him, talked to him," he said. "He's feeling much better and the rehab continues. We'll wake up [Thursday] morning and see how he feels."
Kovalchuk has a back issue and/or groin pull.
Obviously, the Devils rallied around his injury in Game 2. Whether that can continue in the series is another thing.
"I'm sure we got a little bit of a lift," DeBoer said. "All the sudden there's a heightened desperation level because your leading scorer is out and you're facing potentially a 2-0 hole.
"For us, we've got to keep that desperation level and that was what we talked about this morning. That's got to be something that's nightly for us if we're going to have success."
New Jersey won 51 per cent of the faceoffs in Game 2. There is no real significant statistical edge in that.
Except ... the Devils' penalty kill won five of seven faceoffs during the Flyers five plays. Now that says a lot. The Flyers took an "O-For" going 0-for-5 in the game.
"That was definitely a factor in it," said Joey Mullen, the Flyers power-play coach. "I don't think we won a faceoff on the power play. The thing is, if you lose a faceoff, you can get the puck back and we did.
"But it's better to win faceoffs and start with the puck. It's little things, but its big things.
The Flyers are a poor 1-for-11 in the series after experiencing 66.7 per cent efficiency against the Penguins through the first, two games of their last series.
Devils defenceman Adam Larsson made his rookie playoff debut, logging 13 minutes 15 seconds of ice time with Anton Volchenkov.
Because of lineup changes surrounding the absence of Ilya Kovalchuk, Larsson got his first game. And his first NHL goal, as well - a snap wrister from the right circle.
"I got a great pass there from [Dainius Zubrus]," he said. "I tried to go on the outside there. I think it was [Adam Henrique] who blocked out the guy and found the net. So I just tried to shoot it high and was lucky to get it in."
His goal was the first of four for New Jersey in the third period.
"I think you can see that we get everybody going after that," Larsson said. "We score two, three, four there, so it was very important I think.
But we played really good today and we were wearing them down pretty good there.
"I was a little bit rusty in the first five to 10 minutes, but the longer the game went, I felt pretty good in there."
Not just on the Flyers power play, but throughout the ice in its entirety. The Flyers looked and played lethargically in a Game 2 loss.
Kimmo Timonen said they didn't deserve to win, either.
"Our skating was off and this game is all about skating and speed nowadays and if you don't have it you're going to be in trouble," he said.
"Everything was off. When we're not skating you lose battles and I think they were a better team in [every] sense of the game."
New Jersey blitzed the Flyers in the second period with 12 consecutive shots before Philly got a harmless point shot from Claude Giroux on Marty Brodeur.
"We were really bad the second period," Timonen said. "I thought we were standing still, we weren't skating and we were still up 1-0 and I thought we were going to crank it up in the third but they got a couple of quick goals to make it two on one. I'll be honest, the better team won."
Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was in a playful mood with reporters.
He spoke in Russian for several minutes, lecturing a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter on something.
He then talked about how he would have been an astronaut had he not been a hockey player.
He debated with CSNPhilly.com the merits of whether the Russians or Americans lost more monkeys in space.
The problem with monkeys, Bryzgalov said was, "they push wrong buttons."
Stat you need to know
New Jersey actually blocked more shots (23) than the Flyers had on goal (20) in Game 2.
More than a decade coming
The Devils had lost 6 straight playoff games to the Flyers in Philly until Tuesday.
The victory marked their first since Game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference finals which happened to be Eric Lindros's last game ever in a Flyers jersey.
Scott Stevens knocked Lindros out with a concussion hit, a shoulder check to the head.
Tim Panaccio reports on the Flyers for CSNPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @tpanotchCSN
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