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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."
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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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 Friday, 05.11.2012 / 12:00 PM

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

Devils get off day; status quo on injured defensemen

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils stayed off the ice Friday as they continued to wait for their opponent for the Eastern Conference Finals to be set.

That extra day of rest could be most beneficial to a pair of New Jersey defensemen who were injured in the Devils' series-clinching Game 5 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

Marek Zidlicky and Anton Volchenkov sat out practice Thursday, but coach Peter DeBoer told reporters Friday the same thing he said Thursday -- he expects both to be in the lineup for Game 1 of the conference finals.

"Everyone's getting better," he said. "Shouldn't be an issue."

Neither player was available to speak to the media.

Volchenkov had to go to the locker room after absorbing a hit from Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo 6:28 into the game. He missed about seven minutes of game time, but returned and played a total of 14:59, just off his playoff average of 15:21 per game.

Zidlicky was shaken up after a hit by the Flyers' Wayne Simmonds with 8:17 left in the second period. He returned to play four more shifts in the second, but sat out the third.

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

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Posted On Thursday, 05.10.2012 / 4:44 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Devils split on if they'll follow Rangers-Caps Game 7

NEWARK, N.J. -- By the time Game 7 between the Rangers and Capitals ends Saturday night, the Devils will finally know whom and where they'll be playing in the Eastern Conference Finals. But with four days off before that series finale even starts, not all of the Devils will be enjoying that evening watching on television.

"If I start watching the game, I'll start thinking we're going to play this team next. Then the next period I'll think I'm going to play the other team," said Petr Sykora, who won a Stanley Cup with the Devils in 2000 and has no plans on watching. "I'm going to worry about my own game and myself. The next day we'll have a meeting about who we're going to play. Mentally I'm going to try to recharge and just get ready for whomever we play."

For younger players experiencing their first prolonged playoff action, the opportunity to watch the game seems more appealing. But don't expect them to hover around the television anticipating their next opponent.

"I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't be at home with the game on, watching parts of it at least," winger David Clarkson said. "I might not watch the whole game, but I'll definitely watch some of it."

For one member of the Devils' staff, having the opportunity to rest and watch two teams battle for a spot in the conference finals is a luxury. But not because Game 7s are typically so exciting.

"Absolutely," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said when asked about watching the big game. "More with a coaching hat on than a fan's perspective. Every Game 7 is great, but from my perspective it's for pre-scouting both teams. So when we wake up Sunday morning we can hit the ground running based on who we're playing."
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Posted On Thursday, 05.10.2012 / 1:10 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Devils have spirited practice minus two defensemen

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky, who left Tuesday's Game 5 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in the second period after suffering an undisclosed injury following a hit from winger Wayne Simmonds, was held out of practice Thursday in Newark, along with fellow defenseman Anton Volchenkov.

When asked about both defensemen, Devils coach Peter DeBoer described their day off as a "rest day" and said he expected them both to be available for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Devils went through a high-impact practice in anticipation of the next round of the playoffs, which will see them face either the New York Rangers or Washington Capitals for the right to go to the Stanley Cup Final.

"We had a work day today," said DeBoer. "I think you have to stay in the rhythm of pushing your bodies every other night. That's the NHL playoffs."

Zidlicky has six points in 12 games this postseason and has quarterbacked New Jersey's power play since being acquired from the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 24. New Jersey dressed just six defensemen for practice on Thursday, including Matt Taormina, who has yet to make an appearance in this year's playoffs and hasn't dressed for the Devils since March 27. Peter Harrold, who has not dressed since Game 2 against the Flyers, could be called into duty if the Devils found themselves short a defenseman.

Volchenkov was on the receiving end of a hard hit from Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo early in the Game 5 win over the Flyers, but managed to finish the game.

The Devils will hold an optional off-ice workout tomorrow before getting back on the ice for practice on Saturday.
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.09.2012 / 2:34 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - Flyers vs. Devils series blog

Zidlicky 'day-to-day' with unspecified injury

New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello informed local reporters on Wednesday that defenseman Marek Zidlicky is "day-to-day" with an unspecified injury he sustained in the second period of Game 5 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center.
 
According to The Star-Ledger, Lamoriello refused to reveal the nature of Zidlicky's injury but said he should be fine for the conference finals.

When asked if the injury should be a concern, Lamoriello said "No."
 
Zidlicky, acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 24, was shaken up 8:14 into the second period 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.
 
Zidlicky has been a key cog along the Devils blue line in the playoffs, producing one goal, six points and a plus-3 rating in 12 games.
 
"Zid brings more mobility to our defense," Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said. "He's balanced our defense even more and that's why it was so important to pick up a guy like that, especially when you lose a guy like [Henrik Tallinder]. That created a hole that Zid was able to fill pretty good."
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.08.2012 / 7:21 PM

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

Flyers juggle lines in Giroux's absence

PHILADELPHIA -- In the absence of leading scorer Claude Giroux, the Flyers reconfigured all four of their forward lines for Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the New Jersey Devils.

Zac Rinaldo replaces Giroux, who is serving a one-game suspension for his hit to the head of New Jersey's Dainius Zubrus in the second period of Game 4 on Sunday. It's Rinaldo's first game since Game 4 of the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Flyers also will have a new face on defense, as Andrej Meszaros will play his first game since March 1. He had surgery March 21 to remove a disc fragment that was impinging on a nerve root in his lower back. Tuesday marks one day shy of seven weeks since the procedure; the original prognosis for recovery was 6-8 weeks.

The Devils will have one lineup change, as Ryan Carter returns after sitting out Game 4 after a bout of food poisoning.

Here are the lineups the teams play Game 5 with:

FLYERS

Scott Hartnell - Matt Read - Jaromir Jagr
Brayden Schenn - Danny Briere - Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk - Eric Wellwood - Wayne Simmonds
Zac Rinaldo - Sean Couturier - Maxime Talbot

Nicklas Grossmann - Braydon Coburn
Kimmo Timonen - Matt Carle
Andrej Meszaros - Erik Gustafsson

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

DEVILS

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

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

Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

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

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.08.2012 / 5:18 PM

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

Flyers want to channel emotion heading into must-win

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Kimmo Timonen stripped off his hockey gear after practice Tuesday to reveal a T-shirt that read "Play Angry."

Teammate Wayne Simmonds said that's not a bad philosophy to have going into a win-or-go-home Game 5 Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) in their conference semifinal series.

"You've got to go into the game desperate," he said. "We've got to play the best hockey we played all year. I think we know that. I think every man in here is ready."

Scott Hartnell said he wasn't sure anger was the right path to travel, but adding emotion to their game definitely was something his team needs.

"I don't know if its play angry, but play with emotion," he said. "Play angry, that's when you might cross the line or something like that. We definitely have to have that emotion. Definitely after the whistles, they're not even looking us in the eyes, they're skating to the bench, so we're not looking for that stuff after the whistles. We've got to do our talking between the whistles."

Coach Peter Laviolette said it would take more than a catchy slogan to help his team extend its season.

"I think it's just a shirt," he said. "I would like to see our team compete and play hard, do a lot of the things we've done for a majority of the year. A couple bad games that stick out recently, but this team knows how to compete. They know how to play with a lot of energy, a lot of pride, a lot of success. I expect that tonight.

"I don't think we're going to hang Kimmo's T-shirt behind the bench, or rally behind that."

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




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Posted On Tuesday, 05.08.2012 / 12:24 PM

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

Suspended Giroux left to hope for a Game 6 return



VOORHEES, N.J. -- Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux told reporters Tuesday that he never had been suspended at any point in his hockey career.

Getting sat out in an elimination game, he added, wasn't the best time for the first one.

Giroux was suspended for Game 5 as punishment for his hit to the head of New Jersey's Dainius Zubrus late in the second period of Game 4 on Sunday.

"It's obviously not easy," he said of sitting out. "You want to be there to help the team win. But I've got a lot of confidence in the guys that are going to go out there and get the win. After that, we're going to have to go to Jersey [for Game 6] and come back for Game 7 here."

Giroux said he didn't think he would get suspended, but now that the decision is made, he said his focus has moved to getting ready for a hoped-for Game 6.

"Obviously I hit his head with my shoulder, but I still think I didn't jump," he said. "My elbow was down. That wasn't my intention to hit his head. Obviously it's disappointing to see that I can't go on the ice and help the guys win this game tonight. But all I got to do is focus for Game 6 now.

"I didn't think I was going to get suspended, to be honest. I think they want to get hitting to the head out of the game, and I respect that. There's nothing I can do about it now. Obviously, I can't play tonight and it's frustrating."

Giroux said he spoke to a few of his teammates but said he didn't feel he needed to give any motivational speeches.

"Talking to the guys, they look pretty confident," he said. "Everybody wants to win. That's pretty clear. Just [stinks] that I can't do anything about it. I have no control over the game tonight. I've got to make sure I'm ready to go for Game 6."

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


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