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DEVILS at FLYERS
TV: NBC, CBC, RDS
Big Story: Will the Devils be tired after playing seven hard games against the Panthers? Or will the momentum from their double-overtime win in Game 7 Thursday night carry over into their series against the well-rested Flyers?
Devils: Following practice Saturday, center Patrik Elias told reporters, "Every series is always a new beginning."
One new beginning could be a new-look top line.
Alexei Ponikarovsky was elevated to first-line duty at practice, replacing Zach Parise at right wing on a line with center Travis Zajac and left wing Ilya Kovalchuk. Parise was shifted to left wing alongside Elias and right wing Dainius Zubrus. Left wing Petr Sykora was moved from Elias' wing to the third line, with center Adam Henrique and right wing David Clarkson.
"Any kind of change is refreshing and it gives players around them a different jump and different look," coach Peter DeBoer said. "It doesn't mean we will make a change; we've won a lot of games here over last month with the lines we've had. No decisions have been made yet, but any change usually gets a positive reaction, one way or another."
Ponikarovsky certainly didn't mind moving to the first line.
"If they stay that way, it won't change my game," he said. "I know what I have to do and I'll just fit in with [Zajac and Kovalchuk]. We played one game against Pittsburgh back in the regular season and had some success, so that's what they're trying right now."
Flyers: It will be seven days between games for the Flyers when they take the ice for Game 1 of the conference semifinals. So are the players more worried about rust or was the rest more important?
Danny Briere said he's more than willing to trade any rust for the rest he feels was imperative for his team.
"I think the rest was more beneficial for us than keeping playing," he said. "We have to find a way [to get back into rhythm]. It doesn't matter if it's affecting us or not. We have to find a way to get it back. Obviously you don't play for a week, normally there's a little bit of rust at the beginning. But we have to shake that off as soon as we can and find a way to get our game back. We needed the rest more than we needed to keep playing."
To take advantage of that rest, and to combat any momentum the Devils might carry with them from their emotional double-overtime Game 7 win against the Panthers on Thursday, a strong first period is key.
"Our start is huge," defenseman Matt Carle said. "They're going to be feeling good about winning in Game 7, especially in double overtime. So we've got to be ready to match their intensity."
Who's Hot: Devils rookie center Adam Henrique scored his first two playoff goals in Game 7 of the first round. His second goal was the double-overtime series-clincher. … Flyers center Claude Giroux finished the first round leading the League in goals (six), assists (eight), points (14) and plus/minus (plus-6).
Injury Report: Devils defenseman Henrik Tallinder (blood clots) and center Jacob Josefson (broken wrist) are out. … Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann is day-to-day with an upper body injury. Defenseman Andrej Meszaros (back) is out.
Stat Pack: Fourteen of the 21 players selected in the first round of the 1990 Entry Draft played 500 games, and nine went onto play 1,000. But only two of them added to that total this season -- Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr, the fourth pick of that draft, and Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, the 20th pick. They're the only two players still active from that draft. … The Devils and Flyers have split four previous playoff meetings; the two wins by the Devils (1995 and 2000) came on the way to winning the Stanley Cup.
Puck Drop: In 23 playoff games against the Flyers, Martin Brodeur is just 10-13 with a 2.49 GAA and .895 save percentage, and has lost eight of his last 10 playoff games against Philadelphia.
But the Flyers don't buy into those numbers at all. To them, he's still the future Hall of Famer with three Stanley Cup rings.
"It's Marty Brodeur," Danny Briere said. "We saw what he did in Game 7 [against the Panthers]. … Probably, if not the best goalie that's ever played, in my mind him and Patrick Roy are right up there. Everything he's done, all the records he's broken -- it's pretty impressive."
If there's been any slippage in his game, the Flyers haven't seen it.
"I watched the last two games against Florida," Briere said, "and he looked good."
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