1. Find some consistency on the offensive end
In Game 4, the Devils scored a rousing four goals and shut out the Panthers. One game later, they were shut out themselves.
First and foremost on the “Where did he go?”?list is Ilya Kovalchuk. He’s scored just two goals in the series. But he’s hardly alone in being inconsistent putting the puck in the net.
Center Travis Sajac, who leads the team in scoring, was brilliant in a one goal, one assist performance in that 4-0 win in Game 4. He had zero points in Game 5.
But outside of Kovalchuk, much of the onus falls on Zach Parise. Parise was non-existent in Game 5. In 20 minutes of ice time, he had zero shots on goal.
2. Will the real Martin Brodeur please stand up?
When Devils coach Peter DeBoer pulled future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur in Game 3 after 22 minutes, he said Brodeur would be right back in net in Game 4. He responded with his 24th career postseason shutout — a new record.
It didn’t turn out to be a turning point in the series as DeBoer might have hoped.
He wasn’t bad in Game 5, but he wasn’t the great Brodeur either. Those days may be behind Brodeur for the most part, but he might need to rekindle them for at least a couple games if the Devils want to advance in this series.
3. Is Jose Theodore now the man in net?
The Panthers began the series with Scott Clemmensen in net, but after a sterling performance by Jose Theodore in net in Game 5, Theodore is supposed to get the start again in Game 6.
“We don’t want Theodore to feel comfortable in net,” Kovalchuk said. “You know when we have traffic in front of him, he gives up a lot of rebounds. We just have to take advantage of it.”
Theodore had his second career shutout in Game 5, but he’s not exactly a sure thing. He had a 2.46 GAA in the regular season and a 22-16 record.