Devils do it without Kovalchuk

Devils forward David Clarkson celebrates his goal against the Flyers during Game 2 of their NHL...

Devils forward David Clarkson celebrates his goal against the Flyers during Game 2 of their NHL Eastern Conference semifinal series at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Penn., May 1, 2012. (TIM SHAFFER/Reuters)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:45 PM ET

PHILADLEPHIA - Among all the signs splattered throughout the Wells Fargo Center telling him to retire, future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur spotted a particularly funny one that made him grin Tuesday night.

Directly behind the New Jersey Devils net in the second period, an imaginative chap held up a placard with a rocking chair drawn on the front. The suggestion was that an old goat like the 39-year-old Brodeur should plant his butt in one.

“I had such little to do in the second period, I almost felt like I should be sitting in a chair like that,” Brodeur chuckled after his team posted a 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Brodeur was only half-joking.

So dominant were the Devils in every aspect of the game that the Flyers went the first 18:32 of the second period without registering a shot on goal.

We’re not sure if Brodeur needed a rocking chair. A La-Z-Boy recliner probably would have been more suitable.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Devils win was that their convincing victory was accomplished without the services of sniper Ilya Kovalchuk.

With Kovalchuk sidelined due to injury, the Devils were supposed to be nothing more than helpless prey for the hungry Flyers.

At least that’s what the orange-clad throng figured when they arrived for Game 2 of the clubs' NHL Eastern Conference semifinal.

Ask any of the rabid Flyers fans prior to the game if they expected Philadelphia to take a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven series and the answer would have been a resounding yes.

So, imagine the shock in what normally is one of the league's most raucous crowds when Peter DeBoer’s Devils kicked their hosts right in the Liberty Bells.

Fuelled by a four-goal outburst in the third period, the Devils erased a 1-0 Flyers lead en route to tying the series 1-1 heading into Game 3 in Newark Thursday night.

Adam Larsson, with his first NHL post-season goal, David Clarkson, Travis Zajac and Bryce Salvador scored for the Devils.

The Devils came into Game 2 sans Kovalchuk, who did not accompany the team on its 90 minute bus ride down the New Jersey turnpike from Newark to Philadelphia.

“We left Ilya Kovalchuk back in New Jersey and he will not be in the lineup,” Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said after the Devils' morning skate. “The reason is a lower-body injury and that’s all we will say.

“He is day-to-day. We’ll have no other further comments on Ilya’s situation.”

A day after Kovalchuk failed to register a single shot in the Devils' 4-3 overtime loss to the Flyers in Game 1 Sunday afternoon, reporters in Newark were told that he was not available to speak after the team’s video session Monday because he had gone to “therapy.”

Obviously the treatment was much needed.

Those who observe the team on a daily basis had suspected that Kovalchuk has been nursing an injury believed to be his lower back, although the Devils sniper, whenever asked about his status throughout the playoffs, has maintained he’s been healthy.

Of course, the way the Devils came roaring out of the gate, you didn’t even notice that Kovalchuk was missing.

“The more we win, the less pressure (Kovalchuk) has to rush back,” Brodeur said. “We talked to him about (not rushing back), but he’s a big boy. He’s one of the best players in the game. And when come together and rally as a team in his absence, we can be successful until he comes back.

“We’re in this for the long haul, not a short ride. That’s what he has to remember.”

While the Devils were celebrating, the Flyers were scratching their collective heads. Despite an outstanding performance from goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, the team was flat during the final 55 minutes of play.

“Bryz was the only one who showed up,” Flyers forward Daniel Briere said.

At least Kovalchuk had a legitimate reason for being absent.

The Flyers had no such excuse.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/zeisberger


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