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Posted On Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 12:16 PM

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

Team meeting, no practice for Devils day after loss

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer gave his players a day off the ice on Tuesday as they go back to the drawing board to devise a strategy on how to get pucks behind New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
 
The Devils, who dropped a 3-0 decision to the Rangers on Monday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, will look to even this best-of-seven series on Wednesday back at Madison Square Garden.
 
While no player in Monday's lineup was on the ice on Tuesday here at AmeriHealth Pavilion, healthy scratches Peter Harrold, Tim Sestito, Cam Janssen, Eric Boulton and Matt Taormina were skating with the call-ups from the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Albany.
 
Additionally, defenseman Henrik Tallinder, who has been sidelined since Jan. 17 with a blood clot in his lower leg, and Jacob Josefson (wrist), both did some stretching exercises and drills on the ice.
 
DeBoer will speak with the media following a team meeting slated for 12:30 p.m. ET.
 
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Posted On Monday, 05.14.2012 / 12:52 PM

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

Long-time NHLer J.P. Parise has advice for son

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise said his dad, J.P. Parise, did talk with him to discuss the excitement and fanfare that will accompany the first Eastern Conference Finals contest of his career in Game 1 at Madison Square Garden on Monday.
 
"Yeah, we talked [Sunday]," Parise said. "He made it to the conference final once or twice, and he just said how excited he was. He said he thought we had a good chance with only four teams left. He kept saying, 'You guys have a great chance to do it.'"
 
The elder Parise spent 14 seasons in the League, including six seasons and parts of two others in Minnesota. He played a key role for the New York Islanders during the 1975 season, helping the club to their first playoff berth and into the Stanley Cup semifinal round. Parise played four seasons on Long Island.
 
Devils coach Peter DeBoer knows his captain will be ready to go once the puck drops in his first conference finals appearance.
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Posted On Monday, 05.14.2012 / 12:32 PM

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

All-American captains Parise, Callahan set to battle

NEWARK, N.J. -- There's a lot to like about All-American captains Zach Parise of the New Jersey Devils and Ryan Callahan of the New York Rangers.
 
Parise, of Minneapolis, Mn., and Callahan, of Rochester, N.Y., were actually teammates for the silver-medal winning U.S. Olympic Team during the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.
 
"He plays the game hard and finishes checks," Parise said. "He's very reliable and I'm pretty sure they play him in all situations. I got the chance to play with him in Olympics. I know how good a player he was going against him, but once you play with him, I think you appreciate more what he does. He's a good player."
 
As is Parise.
 
"I've never played with Callahan, but I like the way he plays … hard and tough," Devils forward David Clarkson said. "Zach is a leader here. It's unbelievable with the way he works, how hard he is on the puck and how fast he skates. He's that full-package player. I don't know Callahan personally, but from watching him, he also works hard in different zones and does a lot of things for them."
 
Both captains have certainly proven their mettle in the postseason. Parise has four goals and eight points in 12 games. Callahan has three goals and six points in 14 contests.
 
Expect both players to be in the thick of the action once again on Monday when Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals takes center stage at Madison Square Garden.
 
"Playing the Rangers makes for a great story," Parise said. "They've been on top all year and on top of the conference, so it'll be a good challenge for us. It just happens to be our rival, too."
 
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Posted On Monday, 05.14.2012 / 12:26 PM

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

Projected Game 1 lineup for Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- While New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer refused to tip his hand as to his opening lineup for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers on Monday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC), it's pretty safe to assume it will be status quo.

During Monday morning's optional skate here at AmeriHealth Pavilion, every player was accounted for with the exception of Petr Sykora, who decided to sit out in preparation for the start of the series at Madison Square Garden.

Additionally, Cam Janssen, Eric Boulton, Tim Sestito and Peter Harrold, who have been frequent healthy scratches, remained on the ice long after majority of the team left the ice.

"I haven't decided [on a lineup]," DeBoer told the media. "We'll decide that at game time."

Forwards Zach Parise and David Clarkson are looking forward to hitting the ice after waiting five days following their Game 5 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

"Playing in MSG … you know it's going to be louder and more hostile in there, but it's all the same in Philly," Parise said. "It is a very hard building to play in, too, but it's a good atmosphere. I would expect them to have a great start. Maybe a little carryover from their Game 7 [against Washington on Saturday]. We just need to keep doing what we've been doing."

Clarkson has shown great discipline throughout the playoffs and knows that must continue against the Rangers. While he does lead the team with 20 penalty minutes, that total ranks 12th in the playoffs.

"I think it's one thing the coaching staff and Pete have instilled in me … stay out of the box and keep away from the after-the-whistle stuff," Clarkson said. "The whole team has been told that.

"It's tough because sometimes you get bumped the wrong way or something like that when on the forecheck. But there's a bigger picture of winning, and if that's all I have to do to help this team win … pull back the reins a bit, so be it. I'll continue to make plays. Sometimes it's tough, but at the end of the day, it's what needs to be done to win and it's been working."

Here is the team's probable lineup for Monday:

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

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Adam Larsson

Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

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Posted On Sunday, 05.13.2012 / 2:38 PM

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

Parise doesn't expect repeat of MSG brawl

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise was reminded on Sunday of the brawl that took place at Madison Square Garden back in March against the New York Rangers in the finale of their season series.
 
There wasn't a player in the locker room that didn't.
 
Just three seconds after the opening faceoff, New Jersey's Cam Janssen, Eric Boulton and Ryan Carter of the Devils were each given five minutes for fighting and defenseman Bryce Salvador a 10-minute misconduct as a third-man in.
 
For the Rangers, Mike Rupp, Stu Bickel and Brandon Prust were given fighting majors. Salvador's misconduct came when he interjected in the Carter-Bickel battle at which time Carter was cut and bleeding on the ice.
 
Parise said he doesn't expect that to happen at any stage of their upcoming series against the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals that begins Monday in Manhattan.
 
"The intensity will be there between the teams, but, in the playoffs, you don't see line brawls like that too often or fighting, period," Parise said. "That doesn't mean the rivalry isn't there. We have to play whistle-to-whistle. As far as the fights go, I could be wrong, but you just don't see those very often in the playoffs."
 
Devils wing David Clarkson expects a good, hard-fought series.
 
"I think it is a big rivalry, that's no secret," Clarkson said. "Over the years, it's become heated at times, but at the end of the day, you've got to win and put some things on the side … play disciplined. And that's what we intend to do."
 
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Posted On Sunday, 05.13.2012 / 2:32 PM

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

Devils' Gionta plenty familiar with rivalry

NEWARK, N.J. -- While New Jersey Devils forward Stephen Gionta will be experiencing his first playoff series against the New York Rangers, he certainly is no stranger to the rivalry.
 
Gionta's brother, Brian, spent seven seasons in New Jersey and played a key role in the team's only playoff series triumph over the Rangers in 2006 during the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The elder Gionta, who is now captain for the Montreal Canadiens, scored two game-winning goals during a four-game sweep of New York that year.
 
"I don't remember that series, but I know about the Rangers' rivalry and look forward to [Monday's] game," Gionta told NHL.com. "I haven't talked to [Brian] since [Sunday's] game, but I'm sure I'll talk to him [Monday]. It's a divisional opponent, so it should make for a fun series."
 
The Devils outscored the Rangers, 17-4, in their four-game annihilation of the Rangers that spring. Stephen Gionta, who was signed by the Devils as a free agent in August, 2010, was 23-years-old at the time.
 
Gionta, who has played a key role on the team's fourth line in the opening two series, said remaining disciplined will be a key against the Rangers.
 
"You always have to keep your emotions in check and we don't want to get into that same type of game that Philly likes to play," Gionta said. "We have to stay disciplined because they can hurt you on the power play. If we find ourselves in that position, it could turn out to be a problem."
 
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Posted On Sunday, 05.13.2012 / 2:28 PM

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

Devils ready for Game 1 against Rangers

NEWARK, N.J. -- For the first time in five days, the New Jersey Devils began practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Sunday afternoon with the benefit of full disclosure.
 
In order to advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in eight seasons, New Jersey will have to eliminate the rival New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals slated to begin Monday with Game 1 at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
 
"We know where we're at and what's at stake," Devils forward Patrik Elias said. "We've had our share of disappointments in the past, missing the playoffs last season, but, for me, it's been a while to be in this position. We're focused, loose and enjoying the moment. You have to have a special group to get this far and I believe we have that here."
 
The Rangers have won four of the previous five playoff series between the teams -- New Jersey earned a four-game sweep in the conference quarterfinals in 2006. The only other time the teams met in the conference finals was 1994, when Stephane Matteau's goal in the second overtime of Game 7 against Martin Brodeur gave the Rangers the victory.
 
"The key against the Rangers is getting pucks by [Henrik] Lundqvist … they're a very defensive team," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "They pressure you all over the ice but they do break down from time to time and he's there to bail them out. So we've got to get some pucks by him."
 
The Rangers are a much different type of opponent than the Devils have already faced in the playoffs. The offenses for the Florida Panthers and Philadelphia Flyers looked to finesse their way into the offensive zone and that played right into New Jersey's hands, particularly against the Flyers in the conference semifinals.
 
The Rangers have proven to be quite the defensive juggernaut in these playoffs, allowing just 1.86 goals-per game in 14 matches. They've also allowed 28.4 shots-per game; New Jersey has yielded 27.4 shots over 12 playoff contests.
 
The biggest discrepancy between the clubs is the offensive firepower displayed in the playoffs. The Devils have averaged three goals per game and the Rangers are hitting at a 2.07 goals-per game clip.
 
When playing five-aside, no team in the playoffs has scored more goals than the Devils (24). The Rangers have connected for 19 goals playing 5-on-5.
 
"Playing five-aside is our strength and it's been that way through both [previous] series," Parise said. "It's going to be important when we get possession of the puck in the zone, to not throw it away or necessarily look for a play right away, because they come back and collapse pretty low and put five guys right in front of the net.
 
"They're waiting for you to turn it over so they can jump up into the rush," Parise continued. "For us, we have to protect the puck well in the offensive zone."

The Rangers, meanwhile, are tops among the four remaining playoff teams in blocked shots (267); the Devils have 131.
 
"I think it's a matter of our defense getting shots off quickly," Parise said. "I think when you find you wind up for those big slappers, that gives them time to get into the lane and block shots. If they can get the shots off quickly, their forwards play pretty low, so getting them off quickly will benefit us. Get it past the first guy and giving our forwards a way to get the puck back if it's not going to get on net.
 
"I don't think it changes our game plan or mentality though. A lot of teams block shots nowadays and you just have to find ways through it."
 
Here were the line combinations during Devils practice on Sunday:
 
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Petr Sykora - Adam Henrique - Dainius Zubrus
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
Extras: Eric Boulton - Tim Sestito - Cam Janssen
 
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Adam Larsson
Extras: Matt Taormina - Peter Harrold
 
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg
 
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Posted On Saturday, 05.12.2012 / 2:44 PM

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

Kovalchuk not worried about next oppnenet yet

NEWARK, N.J. -- It makes no difference to New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk who the next opponent will be in the Eastern Conference Finals beginning on Monday.
 
Still, a series against the Washington Capitals and fellow countryman Alex Ovechkin would make for a pretty neat storyline.
 
"It would be nice … the first time ever [that both players meet in the playoffs]," Kovalchuk told the media after practice on Saturday. "He's one of the best players in the League and it's nice to play against those guys, but that's something we'll talk about [on Sunday] if it even happens."
 
Kovalchuk said it wouldn't motivate him even more to face Ovechkin in the next round.
 
"You don't need anything else … you're in the conference finals," Kovalchuk said. "I'm sure everybody will be pumped up and ready to go. It doesn't matter. For sure, it'll be nice. We're both Russian and the same age. I think if they win, that'll be their first time in conference finals so I'm pretty sure it'll be special for both of us."
 
For the record, Kovalchuk turned 29 years old on April 15; Ovechkin is 26.
 
Kovalchuk wasn't too concerned when asked his opinion on Ovechkin's limited ice time in the postseason. The Capitals captain has averaged 19:46 on the ice in 13 postseason games.
 
"That's their business and their problems," Kovalchuk said. "I'm pretty sure they're winning and that's all that matters at the end of the day."

Devils coach Peter DeBoer said everyone's ice time is limited this time in the season.
 
"Coaches are playing four lines a game, and I think this time of year, almost everyone's minutes are down a little bit," DeBoer said. "Ovi's are down more significantly, but they have enough depth with that type of player there, with [Nicklas] Backstrom and [Alexander] Semin where they can do that."
 
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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.
 
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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
 
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Quote of the Day

For us it's a little bit different. I've never been in front of this much media. This is more than we've ever had to deal with in Tampa. I guess we're on a little bit bigger stage now. It's nice, you have to enjoy it. This doesn't happen too often.

— Lightning forward J.T. Brown after his first Media Day experience on Tuesday in preparation of Game 1 on Wednesday