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Posted On Thursday, 05.24.2012 / 12:59 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the 2012 NHL Combine

Top prospects set for NHL Scouting Combine

After the Memorial Cup final is staged at Centre Bionest in Shawinigan on Sunday (May 27), it's off to Toronto for the start of the NHL Scouting Combine!

The first day of the Combine should be a relatively slow one while players are interviewed by NHL teams within the Bristol Westin Hotel near Pearson Airport. NHL.com will be here all week, with daily stories and video to be accessed off the site. This event is a great appetizer for the draft, which is just over a month away.

The NHL Scouting Combine, which gives NHL clubs a chance to evaluate 105 of the top North American and European hockey prospects in the world, will be held May 28 through June 2 in Toronto, Ont. The NHL Draft is slated June 22-23 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Here is an alphabetical list of the players attending this year's NHL Combine.

Follow Mike Morreale at the Combine on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.23.2012 / 12:24 PM

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

Parise, Zubrus enjoying chance to be linemates

NEWARK, N.J. -- When told that linemate Dainius Zubrus referred to him as "a little energy ball" following a herculean effort in Game 4 against the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise shook his head and began laughing.
 
He also had this response following his team's 40-minute practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Wednesday.
 
"How do I describe Zubie?" Parise asked, tongue in cheek. "How about, dead weight."
 
Obviously, Parise and Zubrus are having a little fun at a time when the tension heading into a critical Game 5 at Madison Square Garden can be cut with a knife. But keeping it loose and fun is important this time of the season.
 
Still, it's hard to ignore the impact that Parise had alongside center Travis Zajac and Zubrus in Game 4. In addition to generating nine of the team's 30 shots, the trio produced three goals, five points and a combined plus-1 rating in a 4-1 victory.
 
As expected, the line will remain intact for Game 5.
 
"You know how [Zubrus] will play every game, you know he'll play hard and know he will protect the puck down low," Parise said. "You know he's not going to do anything fancy, but that's a good thing. He's going to play up and down and play smart. He's low-risk, and I think that's an easy guy to play with. You know what you're going to get, and you can predict what he's going to do with the puck."
 
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.23.2012 / 12:10 PM

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

Game 5 lineup remains the same for Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer and his players were back on the ice at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Wednesday, making final preparations prior to boarding the team bus for Game 5 against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
 
The Devils scored a 4-1 victory in Game 4 on Monday to even this best-of-seven, 2-2. New Jersey's final home game of the series will be Game 6 on Friday at Prudential Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). The team hopes to be up by a game with a chance to move on against the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Final by that time.
 
DeBoer told the media after practice that the Devils will not make any lineup adjustments from Game 4, after outshooting (30-29), blocking more shots (13-12) and generating more takeaways (10-4) than their Atlantic Division rivals. The Devils were the first team in the playoffs to score more than three goals against the Rangers in a game this postseason.
 
It was the first time, in fact, where it appeared the Devils actually drained the will right out of the Rangers. Devils captain Zach Parise was asked how they were able to do that and if it's something that can be repeated in Game 5.
 
"We just have to score," Parise said. "We were able to get some pucks past [Henrik] Lundqvist and we did a good job in our D-zone … didn't give them a lot of time. They had a couple good attacks and a couple good rushes, but for the most part our defense and forwards did a good job of coming back.
 
"That's frustrating, as an offensive guy, when every time you have the puck you feel like you have five guys in front of you and there's always someone getting a stick on a pass. We did a good job of that. Whether or not that kind of built up and frustrated them, I don't know, but collectively we did a good job defensively."
 
DeBoer said that he can sense, at times, when one team is really beginning dictate momentum. It's something he hopes can continue.
 
"You definitely feel that momentum, and you thrive off that momentum," he said. "You're also very aware that the teams that are left in the playoffs here are very resilient, including the one we're playing, and capable of turning that momentum very quickly. We want to push the pace and dictate and play our game and, when we are, that's when we're at our best. We're also very aware that these teams can turn that on you very quickly."
 
Here are the probable line combinations for Wednesday:
 
Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Dainius Zubrus
Patrik Elias - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
 
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold
 
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg
 
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.22.2012 / 4:06 PM

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

Brodeur getting yeoman's work from defense corps

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur was reminded of the Stanley Cup years on Tuesday afternoon.
 
He was asked if it's difficult to ask this year's defensive corps to live up to the standards set by retired standouts Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko.
 
All three players, who had their jerseys retired by the organization, played a part in three Stanley Cup titles in 1995, 2000 and 2003.
 
The three-time Stanley Cup-winning goalie does believe that this year's defense is, indeed, unnecessarily living in the shadows of those former stars in the Garden State.
 
"Definitely," Brodeur told the media on Tuesday. "And I don't think you can do it. I think these guys are … one is in the Hall of Fame [Stevens], one will be in the Hall of Fame soon [Niedermayer], and Dano is in his own Hall of Fame. It's tough to compare other defensemen, and even for the fan's point of view also to see how solid we were before." 
 
While the names Bryce Salvador, Andy Greene, Mark Fayne, Marek Zidlicky and Anton Volchenkov may not have the same intimidating effect as the aforementioned trio, Brodeur believes they've set their own standards -- and have succeeded.
 
"We have guys that are into it, are living something that they never lived before, and I think they're taking up the challenge as good as anybody could have done," Brodeur said. "I had my best confidence [in Game 4 on Monday]. I'm glad these guys are having success, and it's well-deserved because they've been working really hard at it and paying attention to a lot of small details that makes them successful."
 
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Posted On Monday, 05.21.2012 / 12:54 PM

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

Henrique no longer a rookie in DeBoer's eyes

NEWARK, N.J. -- It's gotten to a point where New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer won't think twice about giving rookie Adam Henrique a key role between two veteran players this postseason and for good reason.
 
Henrique, who is a finalist for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie, spent much of the regular season between captain Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk.
 
In Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers on Monday at Prudential Center, he'll work with Patrik Elias and Kovalchuk.
 
"Nothing changes in my game or their game," a confident Henrique told NHL.com. "We're not drawing up a whole new system for this game because we didn't win [Game 3]. We're getting our chances and just have to execute … you have to score goals to win games, and hopefully we will. All the guys like the combinations, so hopefully it gives us a spark."
 
Henrique, 22, was centering the team's third line with Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson. The change comes at a time when DeBoer has decided to give Jacob Josefson an opportunity to make his playoff debut with Henrique's former linemates.
 
For DeBoer, moving Henrique around isn't much of a concern. He has two goals, eight points and a plus-7 rating in 15 playoff games for the Devils.
 
"I think you forget how young he is, at least I do," DeBoer said. "I think it comes down to hockey sense, and responsibility … he's a responsible player. He's won before, which I think has put him in situations where he's had to play on the right side of the puck and put the puck in the right place and do the right thing. I think that those experiences have really quickened the learning curve at this level for me to be able to put him out there. I don't even think about his age now; we're way beyond that. He just gets the job done."
 
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Posted On Monday, 05.21.2012 / 12:22 PM

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

Devils not worried about Rangers' lineup

NEWARK, N.J. -- Don't expect the New Jersey Devils to adjust their style of play for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers on Monday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS) just because hard-hitting Brandon Prust is out of the lineup.
 
"One guy out, one guy in," Devils coach Peter DeBoer told the media Monday morning. "For us, nothing changes. I'm sure they're going to dress a good lineup and be ready to go."
 
Prust was suspended one game by the NHL's Department of Player Safety on Sunday for elbowing Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov in Game 3 at Prudential Center.

There was no word from the Rangers who they might insert into the lineup, but the Devils players said it wouldn't matter.
 
"At the end of the day, we're not worried about individual parts of their game," Devils forward David Clarkson said. "We've got to focus on ourselves and right now it's to keep getting the shots on net.
 
"We've got to stay out of the [penalty] box, because it's tough to put them in spots like that and when we do get power plays, we have to find a way to score and put those in."
 
The Devils haven't lost two straight games in the playoffs since back-to-back defeats against the Florida Panthers in Games 2 and 3 of the first round.
 
"We've got to come out with our best game and I'm confident we will," DeBoer said.
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Monday, 05.21.2012 / 11:42 AM

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

Game 4 lineup for Devils sees Josefson in, Sykora out

NEWARK, N.J. -- There were no new surprises with regard to lineup changes on the ice for the New Jersey Devils on Monday during the team's morning skate at Prudential Center.
 
Coach Pete DeBoer created a bit of stir with several new combinations at Sunday's practice, including the insertion of center Jacob Josefson on the team's third line. The coach confirmed on Monday that Josefson would replace Petr Sykora in the lineup.
 
What does he expect from Josefson?
 
"Basically just get in, bring us some energy, play like you did the last three, four weeks of the season," DeBoer said. "He's had a tough year between the injuries and the adversity, really over the last two years and I really felt the last two, three weeks of the season, he had re-found his game and his confidence.  If we can get a version of that player in the lineup [Monday], we'll be a better team."
 
The Devils have scored just three goals in three games against the New York Rangers and goalie Henrik Lundqvist in this best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals series that resumes Monday at Prudential Center with Game 4. The Rangers will be looking to take a commanding 3-1 series lead back to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
 
Josefson, who hasn't played since fracturing his left wrist against the Islanders on April 3, will center the Devils' third line between Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson.
 
"I've been playing with those guys before and they're both really good at using their body and protecting the puck and creating chances," Josefson told NHL.com. "It's fun to play with them. There may be some nervousness, but that's normal, that's good. When you're a little nervous you know you're ready."
 
When Sykora finished his skate, a throng of media members surrounded his stall, prompting the veteran forward to smile and proclaim, "I don't get this much media attention when I play."
 
Josefson, who was limited to 41 games during the regular season because of injuries, had two goals and nine points.
 
Similar to Sunday, DeBoer had Travis Zajac between Zach Parise and Dainius Zubrus on the top line and rookie Adam Henrique centering the second line between Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias.
 
"When the team is struggling to score goals, we're trying to mix, and [line changes] always happens," Kovalchuk said. "So [me and Elias] played together before, during the season. He's a great playmaker, always in a great position. So I think we can help each other a lot and create a lot of chances and hang in there. He can skate, and he's great with the puck so I'm really excited to play with Elias [on Monday]."
 
The only players who will play in Monday's game, but did not skate at the optional practice were defensemen Bryce Salvador and Andy Greene.
 
Here are the probable line combinations for Monday:
 
Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Dainius Zubrus
Patrik Elias - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
 
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold
 
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

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Posted On Saturday, 05.19.2012 / 6:18 PM

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

Devils to work on special teams before Game 4

NEWARK, N.J. -- Are the New Jersey Devils losing their "special" swagger against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals?
 
It would certainly appear that way.
 
Ilya Kovalchuk
Left Wing - NJD
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 13
SOG: 47 | +/-: -6
"I think specialty teams have been the different in this series," Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk said. "They score on their power play and we don't, so we have to work on that [Sunday] at practice."
 
The Rangers opened a 2-1 series lead on the Devils on Saturday at Prudential Center following a 3-0 victory. New Jersey not only allowed at least one power-play to the Rangers in the loss, but finished 0-for-5 on the power play.
 
"We just have to create the lanes and get the puck in the net," Kovalchuk said. "We got some good chances and good looks, but we got a couple stick breaks at the wrong time and we hit the post. I had some chances … we just have to keep working."
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Posted On Friday, 05.18.2012 / 4:00 PM

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

Brodeur talks Game 2 'scorpion save' on Gaborik


NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur couldn't help but smile when told his incredible right leg save while on his stomach against forward Marian Gaborik early in the second period of Game 2 had gone viral and was being labeled "Marty's scorpion save."
 
The stop came at the 2:01 mark when Gaborik broke in from the left circle and targeted a shot over a fallen Brodeur with the Rangers working the power play. Somehow, Brodeur was able to bend his right knee and deflect the puck away with the puck of his skate. It actually resembled that of a scorpion striking with its tail.
 
"Yeah, it's definitely one of the most interesting ones," Brodeur told the media on Friday. "I didn't know I was able to stretch that far with my leg behind me like that. You know, it's kind of a desperation move there. I got lucky to make the save. It looks good, but if you fast forward the tape for about 10 seconds and they score a goal, so that's not good."
 
Marc Staal connected against Brodeur just 22 seconds after the highlight-reel block. Still, it's just one more clip in the ever-growing collection for the future Hall of Fame goalie.
 
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Posted On Friday, 05.18.2012 / 3:15 PM

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

Josefson, Tallinder part of Devils practice

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils returned to the ice for practice on Friday at AmeriHealth Pavilion following their day off to begin serious preparations for the New York Rangers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
 
"We know the Rangers are going to come out and play a great hockey game, so it's on us to do the same thing," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "I expect it to be the best game of the series on Saturday from both ends because both teams want to take their game to another level."
 
The best-of-seven series, which is 1-1, resumes Saturday afternoon here at Prudential Center.
 
Devils forward David Clarkson, who scored the game-winning goal on Wednesday in a 3-2 victory at Madison Square Garden, said getting a day off the ice benefits the team.
 
"It's nice to get rest in the playoffs," Clarkson said. "Everyone is banged up, and to be able to spend time with the family and get a day away, and then get back to work, is nice. You can see everyone in [the locker room] is laughing and having fun. You guys can see how fun this locker room is."
 
In addition to the usual game day starters, forward Jacob Josefson and defenseman Henrik Tallinder also practiced with the team for the first time since suffering their injuries.
 
Josefson missed 37 games earlier this season with a broken clavicle and has been out of the lineup since April 3 with a non-displaced fracture of the left wrist. Tallinder hasn't played since Jan. 17 since being diagnosed with a blood clot in his lower leg.
 
"My gut is they'll be available at some point in the series," DeBoer said of Tallinder and Josefson. "So [they had their] first practice with the regular team [on Saturday]. They've been practicing with our AHL team, but it's a great step."
 
DeBoer also said his official lineup will be determined after pre-game warmups on Saturday.
 
Here were the line combinations at Friday's practice:
 
Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Adam Henrique - David Clarkson
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
Extras: Eric Boulton - Jacob Josefson - Cam Janssen
 
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold
Extras: Henrik Tallinder - Adam Larsson
 
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg
 
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Quote of the Day

We think that Randy is a very good coach. Our players think that Randy is a very good coach. We think that he's going to get the most out of this group. With the addition of the two assistants, a bit of a different dynamic, we're very comfortable that this is a quality coaching staff that's going to maximize the potential of this team.

— Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis on head coach Randy Carlyle and his staff