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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Friday, 05.04.2012 / 4:06 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Devils players having a blast during postseason

NEWARK, N.J. -- If you never considered how infectious winning was to a locker room, all you needed to do was listen to the comments made from the two sides involved in the Eastern Conference Semifinal series between the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers.
 
The Devils scored a 4-3 overtime victory over the Flyers in Game 3 on Thursday to grab a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series that resumes Sunday at Prudential Center.
 
What does Flyers forward Scott Hartnell think?
 
"I think everyone's frustrated. I know me, personally, I'm frustrated," Hartnell said. "Whether it's losing a puck battle at the wrong time or whatever, it seems like it's almost contagious right now."
 
Meanwhile, farther north and over in Devils camp:
 
"It's been awesome," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "We're having fun as a team and having a blast. We're excited for everyone when we score … we're having a blast and that's making us play better. We're enjoying being here."
 
Patrik Elias, who snapped a six-game goal-less drought in Thursday's victory, knows exactly what Parise is talking about.
 
"It's a looser locker room and, in a way, we have the right approach, we're mentally committed," Elias said. "We're taking some days off, but we're still mentally and physically [engaged]. We're having fun and enjoying it."
 
Forward Ilya Kovalchuk and goalie Martin Brodeur credit coach Pete DeBoer and his assistants for providing the perfect setting this season.
 
"It's a great atmosphere … the atmosphere in the room is unbelievable and we enjoy playing for each other and that's very important to be successful," Kovalchuk said. "We know we didn't win anything yet. But we've played the way we expected to play, and we have a long way to go.
 
"I think Pete and his coaching staff has been unbelievable. We have great communication between coaches and players and the door is always open. We communicate a lot and it's made a big difference, and we have a great mix of guys who are all really excited to be in this position."
 
Brodeur, who turns 40 on Sunday, said it's been a while since stability has really set in within the locker room. Of course, he's referring to the fact that since the 2004-05 work stoppage, DeBoer is New Jersey's seventh coach in seven seasons, with Jacques Lemaire and GM Lou Lamoriello each holding the position twice.
 
"We're trying to build something together and we're having a lot of fun," Brodeur said. "It's a little more relaxed as far as guys being around and doing the things we're doing. We're well-organized, and nothing is hidden. It's wide-open and constructive all the time, and that makes it a lot different than before when maybe there was a little more private side when things were going wrong."
 
Brodeur feels that's a direct reflection of the coaching staff.
 
"Everyone has a part in that, but definitely the coaching staff," he said. "I think they put us at ease and don't try to embarrass. There's no blame and everybody wants the best of everybody, and that line of communication has been tremendous.
 
"As long as I've been in this organization, it's as good as I've seen it."
 
While DeBoer is ecstatic to hear his players are having a blast, he realizes times are a little more stressful right now for the men behind the bench.
 
"That's the difference between a player and a coach," DeBoer said, laughing. "[The players] should be having fun. They shouldn't be thinking about anything other than showing up and executing and being ready to play their next game. When they have down time, they should enjoy their down time. It's a different mindset with [coaches]. That's why it's a lot more fun to be a player."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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POSTED ON Thursday, 05.03.2012 / 5:51 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Laviolette expects better effort in Game 3

NEWARK, N.J. -- After a Game 2 that saw them manage just 20 shots on net -- including just two in the second period -- Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said he expects a better effort from his team in Game 3 on Thursday night -- not just because he's demanding it, but because that outing was a shot to their pride.

"I don't think anybody likes not playing their game," he said. "We're looking to right some wrongs. We didn't have a good effort; the guys know that. [Thursday] is a crack at playing a better hockey game."

Devils coach Peter DeBoer said earlier in the week that he thought the pressure in the series was on the Flyers as the higher seed. However, Laviolette called that opinion "irrelevant."

"Who somebody says the pressure is on is irrelevant," he said. "New Jersey has a good team, the Flyers have a good team. It's 1-1 in the series. The team who plays the best on the ice has the best chance of winning the hockey game.

"I'd like to think that our strides are more meaningful tonight. … Nobody wants to go down 2-1 in this series."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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POSTED ON Thursday, 05.03.2012 / 11:58 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Projected Game 3 lineup for Flyers

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Philadelphia Flyers held an optional morning skate Thursday in preparation for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Central (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).
 
All players expected to be in the lineup Thursday stayed off the ice, including goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. Coach Peter Laviolette also was not available.
 
The best-of-seven series is tied, 1-1.
 
Here are the probable line combinations for the game:
 
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
James van Riemsdyk - Danny Briere - Jakub Voracek
Matt Read - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
Maxime Talbot - Sean Couturier - Eric Wellwood
 
Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossmann
Matt Carle - Kimmo Timonen
Andreas Lilja - Erik Gustafsson
 
Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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POSTED ON Thursday, 05.03.2012 / 11:41 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Devils say Kovalchuk a game-time decision

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk will be a game-time decision on Thursday when his team battles the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal round series at Prudential Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).
 
Kovalchuk was sidelined for Tuesday's Game 2 in Philadelphia -- a 4-1 Devils victory -- with a lower-body injury but was back on the ice Thursday morning during the team's practice. The Devils will host the Flyers at 7:30 p.m. ET.
 
"I just have to make sure I'm ready for the game … I feel really good," Kovalchuk told the media. "It will be a coaches' decision. I just have to prepare myself for the game and we'll see."

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.02.2012 / 3:28 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Bryzgalov heads back into space

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Ilya Bryzgalov has been known to say a few … eccentric things in his time. Most hockey fans remember his curious statements on topics ranging from the size of the universe to his love of Siberian huskies.

However, the last few months have seen Bryzgalov keep his comments more mundane.

But like you can't predict the weather, you just can't predict what might come out of a goalie's mouth. After walking into the locker room following Flyers' practice, one reporter casually asked Bryzgalov what he would do for a living if he wasn't a professional hockey player.

After a pause, Bryzgalov replied, "Astronaut." He added that he was serious.

That sparked an impromptu discussion on the merits of the U.S. space program compared to the Russian/Soviet space program, as well as Bryzgalov's belief that the first two animals sent into space were Russian dogs.

Bryzgalov also had an opinion on sending monkeys into space.

"The problem with monkeys," Bryzgalov said, "is they push the wrong buttons."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.02.2012 / 3:14 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Faceoffs, entries Flyers' keys to improved power play

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The Flyers' power play, so dominant in the first round, has been firing blanks in the first two games in the second round against the New Jersey Devils.

They went 0-for-5 in their 4-1 loss in Game 2, with just one shot on goal. In two games, they're just 1-for-11.

One reason given for the struggles was problems in the faceoff circle. In Game 2, Claude Giroux went just 1-5 on power-play draws, and Danny Briere went 0-3. Losing faceoffs means losing possession, but lost faceoffs on power plays results in extra time draining off the clock and wasted opportunities.

"Obviously the power play starts with the faceoff," Giroux said. "I wasn't able to do that last game. We did a lot of bad things last game."

Another reason was the Devils varying the way they attacked the Flyers' extra-man units.

"There's times when they're aggressive and then there's times when they're passive," coach Peter Laviolette said. "We did have possession and we didn't find shooting lanes, but they did back off at times when we did have possession. So they mix it up a bit."

Scott Hartnell said the best way to counter that is to change the way they bring the puck into the zone.

"I think they're up-ice when we're trying to break in, kind of giving us some grief, we have to put it on the wall and they attack us with three guys coming on you," he said, "And it's on me, it's on [Claude] Giroux and they take away Kimmo [Timonen], and that's the side we want to set up on. We're going to have to do a better job of entries, setting the puck up. When we had a set-up moving around, they gave us time to make plays. It's that initial break-in. We have to get things set up and get it up top and get pucks on net."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


 

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.02.2012 / 3:08 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Brodeur ribs Clarkson for unorthodox goal celebration

NEWARK, N.J. -- It wasn't your typical goal celebration immediately after David Clarkson had given the New Jersey Devils the lead for good in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Philadelphia Flyers.
 
And Devils goalie Martin Brodeur took notice.
 
"I always tell him he can't pass the puck, but he had six or seven assists already," Brodeur told the media following New Jersey's 4-1 victory on Tuesday. "I said, 'Maybe you're a passer now in the playoffs.'"
 
Clarkson established career highs in goals (30) and points (46) in 80 regular-season games with the Devils in 2011-12. Not until Game 2 against the Flyers did he finally notch the third playoff goal of his career and the first in three years. After pouncing on the rebound and driving a shot home 11:17 into the third, Clarkson leaped on top of the goal cage over Philadelphia goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and defenseman Nicklas Grossmann in delight.
 
"It's nice for him to go to the net and score one of his typical goals," Brodeur said. "Hard-nosed, jump-on-the-crossbar, and then hold it for a second for pictures. I was happy for him. He works hard. He's got the beard, too. He's proud of that."
 
When told of Brodeur's postgame comments, Clarkson laughed while peering over at Brodeur's stall in the club's locker room.
 
"I don't think anyone would score and have time to think about [posing for pictures]," Clarkson said. "He's giving me trouble every chance he can. Really, though, I was kind of shoved in from behind and Zach was behind the net celebrating after the goal so I starting celebrating, too. It was a good feeling to put that one in."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.02.2012 / 3:04 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Flyers focus on picking up the pace

VOORHEES, N.J. -- A day after generating just 20 shots -- including two in the second period -- in their Game 2 loss to the New Jersey Devils, the Philadelphia Flyers went through an up-tempo practice Wednesday that was based on skating and quick puck movement.

"We worked on some things that we wanted to do," coach Peter Laviolette said. "Practice today was good. Guys were out there, we broke a sweat, we did what we wanted to do, we had some meetings. And that's what you do on off-days, you try to move past what happened the day before, good or bad, and focus on the next one."

If resetting the focus was the goal, the players certainly felt like it was accomplished.

"We wanted to regroup and it seemed like we didn't have our legs [in Game 2]," Scott Hartnell said. "Just got our legs moving. So it was good."

They certainly didn't appear to have their legs in Game 2, which was the reason they lost 4-1 and head to Newark for Game 3 on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) tied in the series.

"They just out-skated us," Jakub Voracek told NHL.com. "They were faster on the pucks, they won more battles than us. I think that's what made the difference in the game."

"They played great," Hartnell said. "They were playing great offense and we couldn't get out of our end -- not for shifts at a time but for periods at a time. It was … I don't think it was our best effort. We lost a lot of battles. Our compete level wasn't there. It's going to have to be a lot better if we want to stay in this series."

The game was similar to the one the Flyers played in Game 4 of the first round against the Penguins, when they cited a lack of skating and competitiveness for their 10-3 loss at Wells Fargo Center. After that game, Claude Giroux vowed a performance like that would not happen again, especially not at home.

That it did left him frustrated, but eager to get back on the ice for Game 3.

"In the playoffs it's the team that puts games behind them and goes forward from there and motivates themselves to be better next game," he said. "I think we're a team like that. We've got a lot of character in this room. Guys who want to win, guys who hate to lose. It's going to be a fun game [Thursday]."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.02.2012 / 2:54 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Devils' task figuring out how to sustain momentum

NEWARK, N.J. -- How difficult is it sustaining momentum from game to game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
 
It's not easy, but something the New Jersey Devils will try to continue on Thursday in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Philadelphia Flyers at Prudential Center.
 
"It can be hard, and that was a little bit of a challenge for us in the first series [against Florida]," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "We'd have one great game and one game where we didn't follow it up. We talked about that [on Wednesday] and we have to try to be even better than we were last game because we have to expect them to have a great game, too."
 
The Flyers will no doubt be seething after being totally outplayed in their own building on Tuesday in a 4-1 loss in Game 2.
 
"We know Philly is going to come out ready to play, and, listening to their comments, they intend to fix issues they felt they didn't do a good enough job in for some areas," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "For us, we not only have to match our level from Tuesday, but find a way to raise it because they'll raise theirs. I know this will get a lot tougher and we'll have to be ready for it."
 
Speaking of preparation and getting ready, DeBoer admitted on Wednesday that he rarely has "fun" as a head coach in the thick of a playoff series.
 
"It's definitely stressful," DeBoer said. "I don't think you enjoy this when you're in the middle of it. You're getting ready for the next game, looking at film, trying to see what areas worked and what didn't. Where you need to improve … my history with any kind of good runs is you don't look back with any kind of enjoyment or appreciation until long after they're done."
 
Devils goalie Martin Brodeur was asked if his team entered this best-of-seven series with the Flyers as the underdog.
 
"Games are played on the ice and not in the media or how people perceive the series to be," Brodeur said. "You have to go perform those 60 minutes, maybe more. So regardless what people are saying, we just have to put our head down and keep doing what we're told to do."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 05.02.2012 / 11:42 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

DeBoer: Kovy return could be 'sooner than later'

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils were back at the friendly confines of Prudential Center on Wednesday less than 24 hours after unleashing an all-out offensive assault on Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal.
 
Devils coach Pete DeBoer gave his players a day off the ice and while talk of the big win to even this best-of-seven series 1-1 was fresh on everyone's mind, there was also concern regarding the status of forward Ilya Kovalchuk.
 
Kovalchuk missed Game 2 with what general manager Lou Lamoriello termed a "lower-body injury." Prior to faceoff on Tuesday, Rich Chere of the The (Newark) Star-Ledger reported that two anonymous sources told him Kovalchuk "has been icing a back injury, which got progressively worse in the last few days."
 
Devils coach Pete DeBoer told radio station WFAN 660 AM on Wednesday morning that he doesn't know if Kovalchuk will suit up for Game 3. Kovalchuk is scheduled to meet with doctors today and a decision will be made at some point on Thursday prior to puck drop.
 
"I'm sure you're going to see him again in the series," DeBoer told the station. "It could be sooner than later."
 
Lamoriello told the media on Tuesday morning that Kovalchuk was injured at some point during the middle of their seven-game series win over the Florida Panthers in the conference quarterfinals. He said it got to a point where if he couldn't play at 100 percent, it wouldn't benefit either the player or team for him to be on the ice.
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale


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I was in there icing my face as she was trying to push a baby out.

— Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf on going to the hospital with a facial laceration while his wife was in labor following Game 1 on Wednesday