Now that the Florida Panthers have their first playoff win since 1997, perhaps the New Jersey Devils will take them a bit more seriously. It’s tough to shake the feeling that they haven’t in the first two games, as New Jersey seemingly went full-speed for just two periods: its three-goal opening frame that won Game 1 and a two-goal third period that fell just short of a rally in Game 2.
Devils head coach Peter DeBoer seems pleased that the Devils got the 1-1 series split as things shift to New Jersey, but he wasn’t very happy about the team’s overall efforts, as he told Tom Gulitti.
“I thought they were the hungrier team in the first two periods,” DeBoer said. “We can’t play 20 minutes in the playoffs and expect to win.”
One obvious area of concern was special teams. In Game 1, Shawn Mathias took a controversial high-sticking double-minor* and Tomas Fleischmann received a cross-checking penalty in the first period, which helped the Devils build a 3-0 lead. The shoe was on the other foot on Sunday, however, as the Devils took the first three out of four penalties and allowed two Stephen Weiss power-play goals to put themselves in an early hole.
The Devils set a new standard of excellent for penalty killing this season, so allowing a couple of man advantage markers isn’t a huge cause for concern. Underrating the Panthers is a bigger one, however, as they could make life a lot tougher – or their playoff run much shorter – if they assume Florida will just roll over.
* – At least controversial to the local announcers.