Zajac’s OT goal sends Hurricanes downgrading to a Category 2 storm
The New Jersey Devils could have easily been up 3-0 in this series, but I’ll take being up 2-1 at this point.
When Travis Zajac scored the game winning goal in overtime, the state of New Jersey was relieved as the Devils won their first playoff overtime game since 2007. The Devils have absolutely dominated this series so far and the Carolina Hurricanes, aside from scoring in OT during Game 2, haven’t lead at all and always find themselves trying to come back and stay pace with New Jersey.
Here are things I am encouraged by:
1. The Devils are taking their aggressive game and shoving it down the throats of the Carolina blueline. Other than Game 2 overtime, the Devils forwards have been relentless and they are starting to wear down the Cane’s defense. Silly turnovers deep in their zone have resulted in Devils goals and New Jersey must not stop the pressure if they want to continue dominating the Canes.
2. Sticking up for the goaltender. Remember when I mentioned in my blog about the Devils’ blueline needing to get nasty and protecting anyone that gets near Brodeur? Well, I am pleased in what I am seeing. When Canes forward, Erik Cole drove the puck hard to the net, he bumped into Brodeur and Devils defenseman, Paul Martin, made sure to send a message that anyone who comes close to the crease will pay the price. Turns out, Cole got a penalty on the play, which I am not sure I agree with, but the message was sent.
3. Penalty Kill. What a difference! All the shooting lanes are closed down and the Canes’ defensemen on the point are not getting the puck cleanly as the two forwards are positioning themselves perfectly. Now the PK unit is back on track, the Devils can play more aggressively and take more chances. If they get a penalty, they can rely on their PK unit.
4. Power play. The Devils’ forwards are not scoring because of Cam Ward. That’s okay. He can’t hold up the wall forever and they are moving the puck better. Even without their captain on the point, Brian Rolston is more than capable of sending pucks screaming to the net.
5. Zach Parise. Let it be known. The Canes cannot stop him and he is on fire. He setup the entire play that led to Zajac’s goal. He is doing all the little things and winning battles in the corners. So far, in my eyes, he is a Hart trophy candidate that is looking to be a Conn Smythe winner if the Devils should go to the Stanley Cup finals. Parise is putting up points and even without his fallen linemate, Jamie Langenbrunner, he is leading this team.
1. The Caniacs were loud at the RBC last night but still unable to sellout all of their seats for Game 3 on a Sunday night.
2. Devils captain, Jamie Langenbrunner, will not play Game 4 and his injury situation is day to day.
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