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Posted On Saturday, 05.12.2012 / 2:37 PM

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

DeBoer happy for his Devils to rest

NEWARK, N.J. -- There's never too much rest for the weary.
 
After going the distance against the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer said he wouldn't trade places with anybody to be playing another Game 7.
 
"For me, the longer the better," DeBoer said.
 
After needing just five games to dispose of the Philadelphia Flyers in the Conference Semifinals, DeBoer's team is now four days into a five-day break before kicking off Game 1 of the conference finals on Monday. The Devils will play the winner of a Game 7 on Saturday between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers.
 
Is the five-day break too much?
 
"Like I've said all along, I don't think there's such a thing as too much rest this time of year," DeBoer said. "We have to stay sharp. That's our job to manage the schedule and the days off, so that we're ready to go Game 1. That's on the coaching staff to manage it properly, but I wouldn't want to trade spots with somebody playing Game 7 right now."
 
DeBoer has been on a regular routine during the playoffs this spring. He has provided the club with the necessary time off and has had them skate hard as well. It has certainly worked wonders. DeBoer worked his team through two practice sessions on Saturday at AmeriHealth Pavilion.
 
"The guys are excited and we got through a good practice [on Saturday] and we worked on a lot of stuff," DeBoer said. "Again it's managing the five days off and making sure we build and are ready for Monday.
 
"I think all year we've tried to make sure we've had a good ration of rest and practice," he continued. "My feeling is if we practice, we practice hard. If we don't need to practice, you should be resting both mentally and physically away from the rink. I think the guys have enjoyed that part of it and we came back [Saturday] in a good frame of mind after having [Friday] off."
 
The second session was dedicated primarily to specialty teams. The Devils first power-play unit had Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Patrik Elias up front and Ilya Kovalchuk and Marek Zidlicky on the points. The second unit had forwards Petr Sykora, Adam Henrique and David Clarkson with defensemen Andy Greene and Mark Fayne.
 
DeBoer said that whichever team he faces next, the challenge will be a little different than against the Panthers and Flyers.
 
"Both the Rangers and Capitals play a different style than the first two teams we faced in the playoffs," DeBoer said. "I don't think it's any tougher and I don't think easier. I just think it's a different style of play you're dealing with, but we've made the appropriate adjustments for that."
 
DeBoer said the minute he learns of his next opponent on Saturday, he'll reach out to his video coaches "as soon as the game ends."
 
DeBoer was asked if his wife would offer any advice regarding his next opponent on Mother's Day?
 
"No. She will steer clear," he said, laughing.
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale


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Posted On Saturday, 05.12.2012 / 12:44 PM

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

Zidlicky, Volchenkov return to practice for Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- Defensemen Marek Zidlicky and Anton Volchenkov were both a welcome sight at New Jersey Devils practice here at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Saturday.
 
Both players had been off the ice since the team's Game 5 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. According to the team, each player was "resting" after being shaken up in the series-clinching win.
 
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello told the media on Wednesday that Zidlicky was "day-to-day" with an unspecified injury he sustained in the second period of Game 5 against the Flyers on Tuesday.
 
Zidlicky, who was acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 24, was shaken up 8:14 into the second after taking a crunching hit from Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds in the left-wing corner. He did return to the game and played four more shifts but sat out the entire third period.
 
Volchenkov took a hard hit from Zac Rinaldo in the opening period and, despite taking several minutes before returning the bench, was able to finish the game.
 
Right wing Dainius Zubrus, who practiced with the team on Thursday, was also skating hard on Saturday. The veteran forward sustained a charley horse on a hit from Rinaldo in the second period on Tuesday.
 
Devils coach Peter DeBoer conducted a double session on Saturday in preparation for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday.
 
The Devils will either play host to the Washington Capitals at Prudential Center or visit Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers. New Jersey's opponent will be determined on Saturday when the Capitals and Rangers play in Game 7 in Manhattan.
 
Here were the line combinations during the first session of Devils practice on Saturday:
 
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Petr Sykora - Adam Henrique - Dainius Zubrus
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
Eric Boulton - Tim Sestito - Cam Janssen.
 
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Adam Larsson
Matt Taormina - Peter Harrold
 
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
 


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Posted On Tuesday, 05.08.2012 / 12:22 PM

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

Devils get Carter back after one-game absence

PHILADELPHIA -- New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer confirmed on Tuesday that fourth-line forward Ryan Carter will return to the lineup for Game 5 against the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Semifinal series at Wells Fargo Center.
 
Carter was forced to sit out Sunday's 4-2 victory in Game 4 after suffering a case of food poisoning the previous night.
 
"It was a food-born illness," Carter said. "After practice [on Saturday], I went home to eat and had some dinner and lunch -- one of those two meals was the culprit. I'm much better now and I'm good to go."
 
Devils captain Zach Parise feels having Carter back in the lineup is a plus. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound left wing has one goal, three points, a plus-2 rating and 14 hits in 10 games.
 
"I think he's been playing really well for us," Parise said. "That fourth line has done a great job of putting pressure on their defense, and even chipping in with some goals, so it's good to get him back."
 
Carter will take his usual spot on the fourth line alongside center Stephen Gionta and right wing Steve Bernier, a line that has combined for five goals and 10 points in 10 playoff games together.
 
Carter said watching the game on television on Sunday turned out to be a pretty enlightening experience.
 
"You get a much different perspective than playing during the game," Carter said. "The crowd was really into the game [at Prudential Center] and I think that helped with our momentum. I also learned the importance of wearing them down and working hard on the forecheck."
 
Here are the probable line combinations for Game 5:
 
Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Adam Henrique - Dainius Zubrus
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
 
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Adam Larsson
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
 
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale


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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 3:34 PM

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

DeBoer: 'We want to end this as soon as we can'

NEWARK, N.J. -- As has been the case after every game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring, New Jersey Devils coach Pete DeBoer kept his team off the ice during the following off-day as preparations began for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
 
A win on Tuesday will enable the Devils, who hold a 3-1 series lead over the Philadelphia Flyers, to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in eight seasons.
 
"We want to end this as soon as we can," DeBoer told the media at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Monday afternoon. "We know they're going to play their best game. I'm confident we're going to bring our best game. They're a dangerous team at any point in the series, and this one is always the toughest to win. I like how we're playing so we have to continue to do what we've been doing."
 
The one-game suspension given to Flyers forward Claude Giroux for his illegal hit to the head on Dainuis Zubrus in Game 4 was announced after DeBoer spoke to the media. But he was asked if Giroux's absence would make a difference, one way or another.
 
"If he doesn't play, teams in that situation have a tendency to rise to the occasion," DeBoer said. The Devils were without Ilya Kovalchuk (lower body) for Game 2 in Philadelphia and came away with a series-tying 4-1 victory.
 
Meanwhile, forwards Dainuis Zubrus, who was on the receiving end of Giroux's hit late in the second period, and fourth-line wing Ryan Carter, who was sidelined for Game 4 with a stomach virus, are both expected in the lineup for Game 5.
 
The two-game series lead also holds some added significance as the Devils have never lost a playoff in which they've opened a two-game lead at any point -- they are 14-0. Not since their 2006 conference quarterfinal sweep of the New York Rangers have the Devils enjoyed the luxury of leading a best-or-seven by at least two games.
 
DeBoer said his team would like to continue doing the things in Game 5 that have frustrated the Flyers to a point where they seemingly have no answers.
 
"I think coming into this series we saw what they did to Pittsburgh and wanted to make sure that didn't happen to us," DeBoer said. "We knew that composure and discipline were going to be at a premium for us. When we got our heads wrapped around the fact that we're going to have to walk away from those types of situations and take a punch in the head at different points and not retaliate, I think everything else fell in place."
 
DeBoer also said that the experience his team gained in their seven-game series victory against the Florida Panthers in the conference quarterfinal round has been taken to good use against the Flyers.
 
"They are similar teams … Florida had a big speed-rush type of team just like Philly and that helped prepare us for this series," DeBoer said.
 
Here are the probable line combinations for Game 5:

Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Adam Henrique - Dainius Zubrus
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
 
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Adam Larsson
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
 
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Monday, 05.07.2012 / 10:26 AM

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

Brodeur makes 40th birthday a night to remember

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur got his birthday wish on Sunday against the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Semifinal at Prudential Center.
 
In addition to turning back 20 shots in securing a 4-2 victory on the day he turned 40 years old, he also added an assist for a little icing on the cake. The Devils now lead the best-of-seven series, 3-1.
 
Brodeur, who said the day would have been even sweeter had he been able to post a shutout, also established another hockey standard. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Brodeur became the first goalie in NHL history to appear in a playoff game in his teens and his 40s.
 
Brodeur's first postseason game came as 19-year-old when he replaced Chris Terreri in an 8-5 loss to the New York Rangers on April 27, 1992. His victory on Sunday before 17,625 was the 106th of his illustrious career. He is now 2-2 all-time in games played on his birthday.
 
"A shutout would have been better, but that's all right," Brodeur said. "It's great. The guys played awesome. It started a little rocky, but apart from that we were really good. We were on the puck, we were physical and we did the good things to win hockey game tonight."
 
Midway through the first period, backup goalie Johan Hedberg, who turned 39 on Saturday, and Brodeur had their names displayed on the center ice scoreboard to the delight of those in attendance. The ovation was loud, but Brodeur said he didn't see his name until the last second.
 
Brodeur assisted on an empty-net goal by Dainius Zubrus with 44.4 seconds remaining in the third period. The helper enabled him to become the oldest player in NHL history to record a playoff assist on his birthday.
 
"The guys played really well in front of me," Brodeur said. "It's nice to win the game. A lot of people talked about me turning 40 today. I was kind of center stage for whatever reason that is, but it's kind of nice to pull out a win."
 
He now has 12 career playoff points on one goal and 11 assists, moving him ahead of Patrick Roy into second place all-time among goaltenders behind only Grant Fuhr, who had 14 career playoff points (all assists).
 
Devils rookie center Adam Henrique was asked after the game if the team sang "Happy Birthday."
 
"No 'Happy Birthday,' just a big win and that's extra special," he said.
 
Zach Parise said the team presented Brodeur with the best gift possible this time of the year.
 
"A win … that was it," Parise said, grinning.
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale


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Posted On Sunday, 05.06.2012 / 5:50 PM

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

Sestito to make postseason debut for Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils left wing Tim Sestito will make his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut on Sunday on the fourth line when his team plays host to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal at Prudential Center.
 
Sestito will replace Ryan Carter in the lineup. The official announcement came via the Devils' Twitter account almost two hours prior to the opening faceoff. Carter was receiving treatment earlier on Sunday during the team's morning optional skate at Prudential Center.
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Posted On Sunday, 05.06.2012 / 12:01 PM

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

Two-game lead could be commanding for Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils have an opportunity to open a two-game lead in a playoff series for the first time in six years Sunday when they play host to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal at Prudential Center.
 
How significant is that? Well, since the franchise first qualified for the playoffs in 1988, the Devils have taken at least a two-game lead in a playoff series on 14 occasions and they've won every time.
 
Still, not since their 2006 Conference Quarterfinal sweep of the New York Rangers have the Devils enjoyed the luxury of leading a best-or-seven by at least two games. A victory on Sunday, however, will give New Jersey a 3-1 lead with a chance to close it out Tuesday in Philadelphia.
 
The last time the Devils lost the first game of a playoff series, as they did against the Flyers this series, and won the next three games was against Ottawa in the 2003 Conference Finals. New Jersey would win that best-of-seven in seven games before defeating Anaheim in the Stanley Cup Final in seven.
 
The Devils made final preparations for their Game 4 matchup with the Flyers Sunday morning during an optional skate at Prudential Center. All players were present with the exception of Petr Sykora, Dainius Zubrus, Ryan Carter, Andy Greene, Bryce Salvador and Marek Zidlicky.
 
"As I said in the Florida series, I really felt this would be a slow build for us through the playoffs and we would get better as we went like we did during the regular season," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "It's new for a lot of guys in the room despite the average age of the team and the great experience we have with a few guys. We've got a lot of young guys at key positions too so I think we're getting better and better like we did during the regular season and that's the key."
 
New Jersey is hoping to give their hometown fans something to remember on the day goalie Martin Brodeur celebrates his 40th birthday.
 
The Devils sport a 3-1 mark at Prudential Center in the playoffs. The only loss was a 4-3 setback to the Florida Panthers in Game 3 of the Conference Quarterfinal, in which the team blew a 3-0 lead.
 
"We really need the support [of the home crowd]; they gave us that all year long," Ilya Kovalchuk said. "Now, I think it's the most exciting time of the year and they give us a lot of extra jump that's for sure."
 
Devils coach Pete DeBoer said the atmosphere Thursday in New Jersey's 4-3 overtime victory was fantastic.
 
"It was electric," DeBoer said. "It's a great environment and it really gives us an extra lift. The guys, when the building gets going, it's a huge momentum builder for us. So, I know the guys are excited and they've been talking about it since the last game ended and I think can't get wait to get out there [Sunday]."
 
Devils captain Zach Parise considers it a compliment that several Flyers' players had publicly admitted their frustration in this series.
 
"It means we're doing something right, we're playing the right way, and we've been really good in our defensive zone and haven't given them a lot of room," Parise said. "With all the really good players they got over there, you have to limit their space and I think our defense has done a really good job of that and the forwards are doing a good job of backchecking, so if they're saying their frustrated, I guess that's a good compliment to us."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Sunday, 05.06.2012 / 11:48 AM

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

Devils' Sestito could make postseason debut Sunday

NEWARK, N.J. -- While there was no official announcement made by New Jersey Devils coach Pete DeBoer following his team's optional skate Sunday morning at Prudential Center, there's a good possibility forward Tim Sestito will replace Ryan Carter on the fourth line for Game 4 against the Philadelphia Flyers in their Eastern Conference Semifinal.
 
Carter, who was apparently receiving treatment, did not skate on Sunday. There was no equipment at his locker stall following practice, and Sestito was moved beside usual fourth line center Stephen Gionta and right wing Steve Bernier.
 
"I think the chances of him playing look pretty good," Gionta said. "[Tim] brings a lot to the table, he's a hard worker, great forechecker. I played with him in Albany and he'd add a new dimension to the lineup [Sunday]."
 
If the 27-year-old Sestito is inserted into the lineup, he would be making his Stanley Cup playoff debut. In 18 regular-season games this season, Sestito had no points and a minus-5 rating. In 64 appearances with the Devils, he has three assists and a minus-12 rating.
 
The fourth line for the Devils during the playoffs has been incredibly productive. Carter, Gionta and Bernier have combined for five goals and 10 points in 10 games together.
 
Here are the probable line combinations for Game 4:

Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Adam Henrique - Dainius Zubrus
Ryan Carter/Tim Sestito - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Adam Larsson
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
 
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Saturday, 05.05.2012 / 2:08 PM

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

Zidlicky a good fit for Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- When New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello acquired defenseman Marek Zidlicky in February, no one could have imagined the positive impact he'd have in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Well, no one but Lamoriello and the Devils coaching staff.

"At the time we made the trade, we needed someone to come in and play top-two minutes, and those guys aren't easy to find," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. "Not only that, but come in and run your power play too, so when you're making that list of guys you're looking for and the needs you're looking to fill at the trade deadline, there's only two or three guys in that category. So for Lou to be able to go out and get one like him, we wouldn't be here without Marek."

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Posted On Saturday, 05.05.2012 / 1:49 PM

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

Devils unfazed by Flyers line changes

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils were back on the ice at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Saturday in preparation for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal against the Philadelphia Flyers, scheduled for Sunday at Prudential Center.
 

FLYERS VS. DEVILS

Kovalchuk stars in his return to lineup

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer
After sitting out Game 2 with a lower-body injury, Ilya Kovalchuk returned to the Devils' lineup with a vengeance. READ MORE ›
As expected, Ilya Kovalchuk was on the ice and in a pretty jovial mood. Kovalchuk returned to the Devils lineup for Game 3 following a one-game absence (lower body) and notched a playoff career-high three points in a 4-3 overtime victory over the Flyers.
 
The Devils lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1.
 
Coach Pete DeBoer is expecting to see the best Philadelphia has to offer in the postseason. However, the fact the Flyers did a little line shuffling during practice on Saturday has no bearing on how his team will play.
 
"We're concentrating on our game," DeBoer told the media following a 50-minute practice. "Obviously, they have key guys that we need to be aware of when they're on the ice, but we really feel that if we play our game, we don't have to spend an over-extensive amount of time on what they're doing."
 
Kovalchuk agreed.
 
"It's normal when things don't go your way [to change lines] … we did the same thing," Kovalchuk said. "We don't really care what they're doing there. We know how to play against those guys and how to be successful. We just have to go out there and do our job; they have the same faces and it's not like they're bringing five new guys in from somewhere.
 
"It doesn't really matter who plays with whom, it just matters who wants it more."

In addition to Kovalchuk, who said he feels fine and is ready to go for Game 4, rookie defenseman Adam Larsson remained in good graces with head coach Pete DeBoer following another solid showing in Game 3. Larsson logged 20:32 of ice time on 33 shifts in Thursdays' win and also blocked one shot.
 
"I was a bit worried about [Thursday] night," DeBoer said. "You always play the first game back with a lot of adrenaline. We anticipated he wouldn't have any problem returning to the lineup [for Game 2 in Philadelphia], but sometimes the second game hits you a bit. He was out three weeks [as a healthy scratch] but he handled it well and there was no drop off. He played the type of game we needed him to play."
 
Meanwhile, Devils backup goalie Johan Hedberg was celebrating his 39th birthday on Saturday. Starter Martin Brodeur will be celebrating his 40th on Sunday in what he hopes will be a victory.
 
Brodeur has basically rewritten the regular-season record book for goalies by setting marks for career games (1,191), victories (656), shutouts (119) and minutes played (70,028). He also surpassed Hall of Famer Patrick Roy with his 24th career playoff shutout in Game 4 against the Florida Panthers in the conference quarterfinal round.
 
His 26-save 4-0 victory over the Panthers marked his first postseason goose egg since blanking Carolina 1-0 on April 23, 2009. It was his fourth since blanking Anaheim 3-0 in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final to give the Devils their third title in nine years.
 
Here were the line combinations during Saturday's practice:
 
Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Adam Henrique - Dainius Zubrus
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
 
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Adam Larsson
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
 
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Quote of the Day

I might have blacked out. I was pretty pumped.

— New Jersey Devils rookie goalie Keith Kinkaid on his first NHL win Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning