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Flyers, Devils resume heated rivalry in playoffs

by Mike G. Morreale
FLYERS (41-35-6) at DEVILS (48-27-7)

Last 10 -- Philadelphia 4-5-1; New Jersey 5-2-3.

Season Series -- The Flyers finished 5-1-0 against their Atlantic Division rival, including a 5-1 victory at Wachovia Center on March 28, when they chased Devils goalie Martin Brodeur after two periods. The Flyers won five games against the Devils for the first time since 1988-89. For the Flyers, forward Claude Giroux and defenseman Chris Pronger tied for the team-lead against New Jersey with 7 points apiece. Devils forward Patrik Elias led the Devils in scoring against Philadelphia with 2 goals and 5 points, but Brodeur was 1-4-1 with a 3.34 goals-against average.

Big Story -- The Devils and the Flyers will be meeting for the fourth time in a Stanley Cup Playoff series. New Jersey has won two of the previous three postseason matchups -- the 1995 and 2000 Conference Finals en route to capturing the Stanley Cup both seasons.  The Flyers finally earned some payback with a five-game series victory in the 2004 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. This year's playoff series will feature a 10-year reunion of the goalies from the 2000 Conference Final -- Brodeur and Brian Boucher.

Team Scope:

Flyers -- The Flyers qualified for the postseason in memorable fashion on Sunday with a 2-1 shootout decision over the New York Rangers on the final day of the regular season. Danny Briere and Giroux scored goals in the shootout and Boucher (24 saves) sealed it with a stop of Olli Jokinen in the last half of the third round. The Flyers went 4-7-1 over their last 12 games but, as we all know, it's a brand new season.

Devils -- New Jersey captain Jamie Langenbrunner knows the importance of a productive power-play against the Flyers. The club finished 11th overall with the man advantage this season -- hitting at an 18.7 percent efficiency. The Flyers, meanwhile, rank third on the power-play at 21.5 percent. And despite the fact they produced only 6 shorthanded goals, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter are real offensive threats when the team does go down a man.

"Our power play will have to deliver because they'll take some penalties, that's their style," Langenbrunner said. "We have to stay disciplined and smart and take advantage of our opportunities."

Who's Hot -- In 27 games with the Devils, left wing Ilya Kovalchuk finished with 10 goals, 27 points and a plus-9 rating. He leads all players in this series with 41 goals and 85 points.

Injury Report -- The Flyers are without goalies Michael Leighton (high ankle sprain) and Ray Emery (bone graft surgery). ... New Jersey forward Andrew Peters, out since March 25 with a scratched eye, is doubtful.

Stat Pack -- The Devils won the William Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals in the League (191) this season for the fifth time in their history -- matching Montreal for the all-time lead.

Puck Drop -- "You don't get these opportunities a lot. It's been a long time since I've played in big-time games and to be back and doing it again in Philadelphia, I can't tell you how excited I am and how much it means to me." -- Flyers goalie Brian Boucher
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