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Posted On Thursday, 05.17.2012 / 2:18 PM

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

Devils willing to do the heavy lifting to win games

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer refers to his group as a "heavy team."
Heavy in that when they're not outworking the opposition along the walls or in the corners, they're not nearly as successful on the scoreboard.
"I think we're heavy on the puck, heavy on our sticks, we're heavy in the corners and along the walls, and that's the way we're built," DeBoer said during a conference call with the media on Thursday. "When we're playing our best, we're in those areas of the ice."
DeBoer gave his players a day off following a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers in Game 2 on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. The Devils will get back to work on Friday to prepare for Saturday's Game 3 against the Rangers on home ice at Prudential Center. 
Playing heavy and hard was certainly the recipe for success on Wednesday, when the Devils outworked the Rangers in the tough areas of the ice while outnumbering their opponent for the puck on numerous occasions.
"That's a big part of our game," DeBoer said. "We're not a team that wants to trade rush chances or power plays. We're not built that way, so I think our success has come, and it's a common theme, through five-on-five play and by wearing down the other team and playing in their end of the ice."
Devils captain Zach Parise realizes every game this time of the year will be tightly contested -- there are fewer odd-man rushes and breakaways. The only way to succeed is by outworking the opponent.
"When we're playing well, that's what we're doing, and it's a challenge against these guys because that's what they've been known for this year, outworking their opponent and kind of owning the puck down low and along the boards," Parise said. "I think we have to do a really good job of doing that if we want to beat these guys this series because that's a part they're really good at.
"At the same time, when we're playing well and winning, that's one area of our game that we're doing well."
The Devils forced five giveaways in Game 2 against the Rangers, one of which led to Ryan Carter's tip-in goal that tied the game, 2-2, late in the second period.
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Posted On Thursday, 05.17.2012 / 12:50 AM

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

Fourth line comes up big for Devils

NEW YORK -- Once again, the fourth line of the New Jersey Devils provided the necessary spark at the most opportune time.
With the second period winding down and the New York Rangers seemingly in control and clinging to a one-goal lead, Ryan Carter deflected a shot past Henrik Lundqvist with just 1:51 left to pull the visitors into a tie and provide just the impetus required in an eventual 3-2 triumph in Game 2 at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.16.2012 / 12:19 PM

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

Devils could have different look for Game 2

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer adjusted his line combinations Wednesday in an effort to present a different look against the New York Rangers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
The Devils, who generated their lowest shot total of the playoffs (21) in a 3-0 loss to the Rangers in Game 1 on Monday, are looking to even this best-of-seven series.
In addition to moving captain Zach Parise back to the top line with center Travis Zajac and right wing Ilya Kovalchuk, DeBoer had rookie Adam Henrique centering Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson, and Patrik Elias between Dainius Zubrus and Petr Sykora.
It would mark the first line adjustments made by DeBoer since Game 1 of the conference semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers.
"Obviously, we didn't score a goal last game, so on offense, shuffling guys around has been something we've done all year," DeBoer said. "We're definitely not married to those combinations, and I'm not even sure we're going to start with those combinations. It's just how we decided to skate [Wednesday] morning."
The fourth line remained untouched -- Stephen Gionta centering Steve Bernier and Ryan Carter.
"Poni [Ponikarovsky] is a big guy down low and is hard to push off the puck," Clarkson said. "It'll be good. We'll have to get the puck down low and do some cycling and grinding in the corners, and I think sometimes when you move things around a little bit, it's a good thing."
Elias agreed.
"We played with these line combos most of the year," he said. "Pete feels he needs to do something with the lines to get some momentum going. We have no issues and we know each other on the ice, so we'll be OK. You adjust … no one is looking into it too much."
In addition to the changes up front, it appears as though DeBoer will re-insert defenseman Peter Harrold, likely in place of rookie Adam Larsson.
"There's a chance," DeBoer said of the defensive switch. "We're going to look at some different things there, too. Obviously, we have the luxury of some depth on defense here, and we've got guys that bring different strengths to the table, so [Harrold] is an option."
Harrold played the opening nine games of the playoffs, totaling four assists and a plus-2 rating, before being replaced by Larsson in Game 2 of the conference semifinals against the Flyers.
"It looks like [I'll play]," Harrold said following Wednesday's 30-minute practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion. "We'll see. It would certainly be a lot better than watching, but I'm just hoping to get pucks through and make a difference on the offensive end. I think we played well for 40 minutes [in Game 1] and kind of got off our game a little bit."
Larsson has one goal and a plus-3 rating in five playoff games.
DeBoer said that if Larsson is a healthy scratch, it is not because of poor play.
"I really liked how Larsson has played since he's gone back in," DeBoer said. "So if we do move Larsson out, it's not a reflection on how he played; it's just getting a different type of element in there."
Parise said he wasn't fazed by the line adjustments.
"I've played with every centerman and Kovy [Kovalchuk] and I have played together, and Travis and Kovy play together," Parise said. "Patty, Sykora and Zubie [Zubrus] have been together most of the year. Hopefully, it'll produce some goals."
Here were the line combinations from Wednesday'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
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.16.2012 / 12:00 PM

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

Devils: Brodeur's comments were 'off-the-cuff'

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils on Wednesday clarified a comment made by goalie Martin Brodeur that appeared in a story in the New York Post on Wednesday morning.

Following his team's Game 1 loss to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday, Brodeur was asked by a reporter about the Rangers' propensity to block shots. His response, as printed in the newspaper, read: "Hopefully, we'll be able to hurt a few guys [by] getting one-timers in the foot or their head or something …"

The portion of the quote not included in the newspaper story, and said immediately afterward, was "but [the Rangers] are paying the price to win and that's what hockey is all about."
Following Devils coach Peter DeBoer's press conference with the media Wednesday, the Devils' public-relations department said Brodeur's comments in the Post had no malicious intent.
"Obviously, those were not the intent of his comments at all," Devils assistant director of communications Pete Albietz told the media. "He said he would never even think like that. It was just an off-the-cuff comment. He was just referring to trying to get pucks through [on Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist], and that's it."
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 3:00 PM

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

Brodeur finding game-day silence to be beneficial

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur has never been one to shy away from the media, game day or otherwise.
But during the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring, the future Hall of Fame goalie has decided to refrain from speaking to reporters on game days. He admitted on Tuesday during his morning press conference that the decision has been beneficial.
"You know, in the past, I think there was negative stuff talked to me in the morning," Brodeur said. "I felt early on in the series against Florida, everything I talked about was defending my team, not winning two games in a row, not winning a series since 2007. On game days, I don't need to have that aggravation in my head."
Brodeur is 8-4 with a 2.05 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 13 playoff appearances.
"I figure, you know what, I'm going to let it be for a time being in morning skates," Brodeur said. "It's been working out good. I've been a lot more positive and not had bad thoughts in my mind."
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 2:50 PM

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

Injured Josefson hopeful of playing again this season

NEWARK, N.J. -- Injured New Jersey Devils center Jacob Josefson put in a solid workout at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Tuesday with the hope of rejoining the team at some point during its postseason run.
Josefson, who missed 37 regular-season games earlier this season with a broken clavicle as well as two more late in the season and the entire Stanley Cup Playoffs to this point with a fractured left wrist, was in pretty good spirits following his 40-plus minute on-ice instruction given by strength and conditioning coach Michael Vasalani.
Does he expect to return to the ice soon?
"That's my goal," Josefson said. "I'm working hard right now and there's an opportunity. It's tough to say where I'm at. I'm not 100 percent yet, but it's getting better and better every day and the strength [in the wrist] is almost back. The motion is almost normal, so its progress every day and I'm happy with that."
Josefson said Tuesday's workout was the hardest since the injury.
"It was probably the hardest on the ice, but working with the bike and running off the ice … that was even harder," he said. "I did learn a lot watching every game. It's good to watch and see what it's all about."
No timetable has been set for Josefson's return to the lineup.
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 12:16 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 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 - Staff Writer / - 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 - Staff Writer / - 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 - Staff Writer / - 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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Quote of the Day

It's a great feeling. I can't be more excited to be a part of a team that I absolutely love.

— Center Derek Stepan after agreeing to terms on a six-year contract with the New York Rangers