Monday, April 23, 2007

Two down, two to go

Since the Wild and Flames have been eliminated from playoff contention, we're down to only three teams that play the dreaded (and dreadfully dull) neutral zone trap. After tonight's game between Vancouver and Dallas, we'll be down to two.

The Devils are the only team in the Eastern Conference remaining that play the system (not surprising, since their team motto is "Boring fans to death since 1982." It will be interesting to see if the Devils can repeat their first round success, considering they'll be facing opposition that doesn't play right into their hands as the Lightning did.

Many folks might not agree with that statement, and point out that Tampa has a plethora of offensive talent in the Big 3 of Richards, St. Louis, and Lecavalier. The problem with Tampa is that's pretty much all they had. Their goaltending was once again average, and they didn't get the points they needed from the rest of the roster. The Devils were able to match up their vaunted checking line against the Big 3, and the rest of Tampa's roster was unable to pick up the slack. To beat New Jersey, a team needs offensive contributions from multiple lines, and Tampa just didn't have the depth necessary to take out Brodeur and company.

Unfortunately for the Devils (but fortunately for fans of entertaining hockey), the remaining teams in the East have more than enough offensive depth to break New Jersey's system. Whether they can break down Brodeur remains to be seen.

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