Los Angeles Kings v New Jersey Devils - Game One

How can the Devils fix their “embarrassing” power play?

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It’s no secret that New Jersey has been awful with the man advantage recently. The Devils have gone 3-for-29 dating back to the Rangers series (10.3 percent) and are 0-for-6 in the Stanley Cup finals (Ilya Kovalchuk called the power play “embarrassing.”)

So, what can they do to fix it? Here are a few ideas gleaned from the Devils themselves.

Figure out a way to keep possession

One of the best ways to score goals on the power play is to have possession of the puck (PHT, your home for in-depth hockey analysis.) Against the Rangers and Flyers, New Jersey faced far less aggressive PKs than what they’re seeing with L.A. — the Kings are aggressive in attacking puck carriers once they enter the zone.

“These guys, as opposed to the other guys we played, they hold the blue line better when they’re coming into the zone,” said Devils captain Zach Parise. “We find we have to dump it a little bit more, whereas against the Rangers and Flyers, we could skate it in. They definitely make it tougher to get into the zone.”

It’s not a lack of chances, it’s a lack of converting them

Whether he was protecting his players or not willing to criticize the unit any further, DeBoer was optimistic during Monday’s pregame presser.

“I look at our chances, we had a grade A chance in Game 1 against L.A.,” DeBoer said. “Zajac in the slot. A couple other opportunities, Kovalchuk had a real good look. Elias had a breakaway, didn’t go in. One of those, two of those go in, they’re different games, and we’re not talking about it.”

Nice theory, but the coach has to be concerned with the fact his team has just five power play shots through two games.

Speaking of shots…

Get more shots on Quick

The Devils did a much better job putting pucks on Quick in Game 2 (33) than they did in Game 1 (17), but that didn’t translate to the man advantage, where they only had three shots in four opportunities.

“I think we can take some more shots,” Parise said. “It’s a lot of perimeter passing.”

In New Jersey’s defense, the Kings appeared to ratchet up the shot blocking from Game 1 to Game 2. In the series opener the Kings recorded just six blocks; in Game 2, they had 19.

Backes scores OT goal on his birthday, Blues even up series with Stars

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The St. Louis Blues won’t be thrilled with the way they played in the third period, but in the end, they did just enough to come away with a 4-3 overtime win over the Dallas Stars in Game 2. The Blues’ win means that the series will head to St. Louis tied 1-1.

The Stars opened the scoring in the first period, but the Blues responded by scoring three unanswered goals (Patrik Berglund, Joel Edmundson, Troy Brouwer) on five shots. Stars coach Lindy Ruff had seen enough from starter Kari Lehtonen at that point. He yanked Lehtonen in favor of Antti Niemi at the start of the second period.

Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the second period, but things got crazy in the third.

With his team still trailing 3-1, Mattias Janmark split Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko before scoring a great goal.

Moments after Janmark’s goal, Brian Elliott took a Jason Spezza blast off the mask. Elliott was shaken up on the play (he even lost one of his contact lenses), but he did stay in the game.

Stars captain Jamie Benn (surprise, surprise) leveled the score by burying a goal by Brian Elliott with under three minutes in regulation.

Like they did during their first round series against Chicago, the Blues took some time to regroup before finding a way to get the job done.

The Blues’ power play went back to work after Antoine Roussel took his third penalty of the game. That’s when the birthday boy, David Backes, came through.

That’s a nice way to celebrate your 32nd birthday.

Game 3 goes Tuesday night in St. Louis.

 

Jamie Benn’s late goal sends Game 2 to overtime

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This definitely wasn’t the way the St. Louis Blues drew it up.

The Blues entered the third period of Game 2 with a 3-1 lead. Unfortunately for them, they weren’t able to shut the game down on the road.

St. Louis jumped ahead 3-1 after 20 minutes before Dallas decided to pull Kari Lehtonen in favor of Antti Niemi. The move didn’t provide any results in the middle frame, but something certainly sparked the Stars in the third period.

Mattias Janmark cut the deficit to 3-2 with this beauty (notice how he split Colton Parayko and Alex Pietrangelo).

With less than three minutes remaining in regulation, Stars captain Jamie Benn tied it up (top).

It’s safe to say this wasn’t a memorable third period for the Blues.

Video: Brian Elliott takes a blast off the mask, stays in the game

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A bit of a scary moment in the third period of Game 2 between the Stars and Blues.

Less than five minutes into the third period, Jason Spezza took a shot that caught Blues goalie Brian Elliott square in the mask. Play was halted as Elliott remained down. It appears as though the shot to the mask also made Elliott lose one of his contacts.

Thankfully, Elliott wasn’t seriously injured on the play. After being examined by the team doctor, he was allowed to stay into the game. He did need a new mask though (he got his original one back a few minutes later).

You can watch the play by clicking the video at the top of the page.

The Blues currently lead 3-2 late in the third period.

Here’s some Twitter reaction:

 

Lehtonen only lasts one period in Game 2

Lehtonen
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Kari Lehtonen might have been more hit than miss in the playoffs going into today’s action, but Game 2 against St. Louis was certainly a start he’d like to forget.

Dallas outshot St. Louis 10-5 in the first frame, but the Blues still managed to take a 3-1 lead. Antti Niemi replaced Lehtonen for the second period which means, barring another goalie change, Lehtonen will actually end up with a sub-.500 save percentage this afternoon.

The numbers obviously look bad and it’s hard not to blame Lehtonen in the face of that, but the Blues deserve a lot of the credit for those goals. Patrik Berglund had a great shot on goal for the first marker, Joel Edmundson‘s first career playoff goal came after a nice setup by Troy Brouwer, and when Brouwer collected his own goal it was off of a rebound during a power play.

So to an extent, you could say Lehtonen looked bad due to circumstances that were very unfavorable to him. Nevertheless, the Stars needed to shake things up after what was unquestionably a bad period for them.