For about half of Game 1’s opening period, it seemed like the Philadelphia Flyers were sleepwalking from a week-long playoff hibernation. In that time, the New Jersey Devils generated a 1-0 lead and 11-0 shot advantage, a start that Claude Giroux called “embarrassing” and “not acceptable.”
Flyers bench boss Peter Laviolette was pleased that his team bounced back from that bumbling beginning to dominate the majority of the contest and eventually take the win.
“I’m happy to see the response from the team after the first period and in the last 45 minutes of play,” Laviolette said.
Game 1 revealed both sides of the long layoff vs. short rest coin. The Flyers seemed to hit the snooze button a couple extra times but an aging Devils team might have shown some fatigue from going into double OT in a Game 7 on Thursday. New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer didn’t use that as an excuse, but he admitted that the Devils couldn’t keep up the momentum of a good start, according to Tom Gulitti.
“We couldn’t sustain what we did in the first period,” DeBoer said. “They took the game over in the second half and when you’re just hanging on, that’s what happens.”
Ilya Kovalchuk was the scapegoat in many peoples’ eyes, even if defensemen such as Marek Zidlicky and Peter Harrold had blunders of their own. Kovalchuk seemed to sum up the way things went for the Devils, whether he held some of the blame or not.
“We kind of just started sitting back and you can’t do that against this team,” Kovalchuk said.
That’s certainly true. It seems like coming back from an early deficit is becoming the Flyers’ natural habitat.