NEW JERSEY DEVILS (1st Atlantic Division, 2nd Eastern Conference)
How They Got Here:
The Devils qualified for the 13th consecutive season -- the second-longest active streak in the NHL to Detroit's 19. They achieved their 13th consecutive season of 40 or more victories and finished first in the Atlantic Division for the ninth time in 13 seasons.
Conn He Do It?:
Devils G Martin Brodeur
is a modern milestone machine, having achieved over 600 regular-season victories, 110 shutouts, eight seasons of 40 victories or more (no other goalie in NHL history has more than three such campaign) and three Stanley Cup rings. One achievement that has eluded him so far: While 11 goalies have won Conn Smythe Trophies as playoff MVPs -- Patrick Roy
won three and Bernie Parent
two -- Brodeur enters this playoff season still seeking his first.
More Rings Than The Olympics:
Devils Coach Jacques Lemaire
was a member of eight Stanley Cup champion teams as a player, which ties him with Red Kelly
, Maurice Richard
and Serge Savard
for the fourth-highest total in playoff history. He also scored two Cup-winning goals (1977 and 1979) and coached the Devils to a Cup in 1995. Additionally, Lemaire's assistants have played for 10 Cup winners: Mario Tremblay
(five, with one Cup-winning goal), Tommy Albelin
(two) and Scott Stevens
With his fourth consecutive season of 30 or more goals -- and his second straight of 35 or more -- LW Zach Parise
has made club history. No previous Devil had more than three such seasons consecutively.
The 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs will mark the post-season return of LW Ilya Kovalchuk
. Kovalchuk, co-winner of the Maurice Richard
Trophy as the League's leading goal scorer with 41 in 2004, made his playoff debut in 2007 when the Atlanta Thrashers
were swept by the New York Rangers
Kovalchuk led all League forwards in average ice time per game (22:02). His ice time did not drop significantly in his 27 games with New Jersey (21:40) as compared to his 22:14 with Atlanta.
The Devils' roster includes five alumni of the 2003 Stanley Cup triumph -- Martin Brodeur
, Patrik Elias
, Jamie Langenbrunner
, Jay Pandolfo
and Colin White
. Other players from that team who will participate in the 2010 Playoffs: Brian Gionta
and Scott Gomez
(Montreal), John Madden
(Chicago), Brian Rafalski
(Detroit) and Mike Rupp
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (3rd Atlantic Division, 7th Eastern Conference)
Spell Boucher With 17 0's:
When he backstopped a 2-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs
Tuesday night, G Brian Boucher
' picked up the 100th victory of his career -- the 17th by shutout. Five of those shutouts came consecutively during the 2003-04 season while Boucher was with the Phoenix Coyotes
; his shutout sequence of 332:01 stands as the third-longest in NHL history and serves as a modern-day standard, given that the two longer streaks were mounted by Ottawa's Alex Connell (461:29 in 1927-28, when forward passing was not permitted in the attacking zone) and Montreal's George Hainsworth
(343:05 in 1928-29, when there was a similar ban on forward passing).
Ten Years After:
Boucher's last full playoff game was as a Flyer 10 years ago.
Writing A First Draft:
Of the 19 Flyers who played Sunday in the playoff-clinching game against the Rangers, 12 were first-round picks: D Chris Pronger
(Hartford, 1993, #2 overall); G Brian Boucher
(Philadelphia, 1995, #22); F Daniel Briere
(Phoenix, 1996, #24 overall); F Simon Gagne
(Philadelphia, 1998, #22); F Scott Hartnell
(Nashville, 2000, #6); D Lukas Krajicek
(Florida, 2001, #24); D Braydon Coburn
(Atlanta, 2003, #8); F Jeff Carter
(Philadelphia, 2003, #11); F Mike Richards
(Philadelphia, 2003, #24); D Ryan Parent
(Nashville, 2005, #18); F Claude Giroux
, (Philadelphia, 2006, #22), F James van Riemsdyk
(Philadelphia, 2007, #2).
Goaltending = Risky Business:
Due to injuries, the Flyers have used four goalies in addition to Boucher -- Ray Emery
(hip surgery), Michael Leighton
(high ankle sprain), Johan Backlund
(lower body) and Jeremy Duchesne
Higher And Higher:
Team captain Mike Richards
has increased his goal total for the fourth consecutive season. His 10-goal season in 2006-07 was followed by seasons of 28 and last year's 30 -- a figure he surpassed with 31 this season. His 13 power-play goals tied for sixth in the League.
Pull That Trigger:
Following a 342-shot season that ranked him fourth in the NHL in 2008-09 behind Alex Ovechkin
(528), Carolina's Eric Staal
(372) and New Jersey's Zach Parise
(364), the Flyers' Jeff Carter
uncorked 319 shots in 2009-10, ranking third in the League behind only Parise (347) and Ovechkin (368).
The Flyers qualified for the playoffs in rousing fashion -- by rallying from a goal down in the third period and then beating Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist
in a season-on-the-line shootout Sunday. But they stumbled down the stretch to put themselves in that precarious position, going 3-7-1 in their previous 11 games.
Philadelphia brings one of the league's more dangerous power plays into the postseason. The Flyers ranked third in the NHL this season by clicking at a 21.5 percent rate -- including the tying goal in Sunday's playoffs-clincher. Though they only had six shorthanded goals, they possess two of the League's top shorthanded threats in Mike Richards
and Jeff Carter
. Overall, they ranked 11th in the NHL with their aggressive brand of penalty killing.