NEWARK, N.J. -- The only change from Game 5 to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals is a swap of defensemen among the New York Rangers, with Steve Eminger replacing Stu Bickel as the team's sixth blueliner.
The lines the New Jersey Devils showed at practice Friday morning remained intact during pregame warmups at Prudential Center, while the Rangers showed the same combinations they had at the start of Game 5.
Eminger is making his fourth appearance of the postseason and third of this series. He played in place of forward Brandon Prust on the Rangers' fourth line in Game 3 and saw time on defense with Michael Del Zotto struggling during the second and third periods. He stayed in the lineup as a defenseman for Game 4, but sat out Game 5.
Here are the combinations the Rangers and Devils displayed during warmups. The Devils lead the best-of-seven series 3-2.
The notoriety is well deserved, but it's not something the so-called fourth-liners are all that caught up in.
"Hopefully what people are noticing is we're winning games and we're helping the team because that's really what it's about," Carter told NHL.com. "It's good. It's notoriety and it's positive for us as a group and us as a team. We're enjoying that."
Carter, though, said he's not so sure his group should be referred to as a fourth line. Sure, they are coach Peter DeBoer's fourth option and they get the least amount of ice time, but they don't play like your typical fourth line.
Instead of just going on the ice for an odd shift here and there to maybe make a few big hits and eat up some minutes to keep the top nine forwards rested, DeBoer has been using his fourth line to generate offense through the forecheck. Save for the skill and the ice time, the Devils' fourth line plays no different than the other three lines.
"I don't really know that we really reflect on how we look at ourselves, if it's a first line, fourth line, how we do it," Carter said. "We look at it as a shift-by-shift basis and how we play our game."
Carter, though, said the mindset of the fourth-liners has changed as the confidence DeBoer has shown in them has grown.
"We're not worried about who we are out there playing against or who we're not out there playing against," Carter said. "We just go out there and do our thing and that's probably why we're having success. Right now it's on us to go out there and just play our game."
A big key to how they play is Gionta, the 5-foot-7, 185-pound center who did not play in the regular season until the regular-season finale April 7, when he scored the game-winning goal. Gionta has three goals and three assists in 17 playoff games.
"He really opens the ice up for all of us," Carter said. "He's fast at both ends of the ice, so he creates pressure up the ice and if we turn it over in the offensive zone somehow, even if we're ahead of him, he seems to be the first one back and forcing them to make a dump or a play. It all sets up for Marty (Brodeur) to get it, and we're going back in the other direction. His speed is huge for us both ways."
NEW YORK -- Rangers coach John Tortorella was a little more forthcoming about his lineup before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, admitting changes were coming without being specific about players.
Tortorella was far less revealing Friday morning with the Rangers trailing Devils 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, with Game 6 set for Friday night at Prudential Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
"I don't know what my lineup's going to be," Tortorella said.
The only likely change is Steve Eminger replacing Stu Bickel as the team's sixth defenseman. Eminger left the ice at practice Friday morning before Bickel, an indication a change is coming.
Tortorella put his lines in a blender at times during Game 5, but this was how they started and they could look the same way Friday night.
NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils will go for their third straight win and a berth in the Stanley Cup Final on Friday with the same lineup that was good enough to win Games 4 and 5. The lines will not change, either, as the Devils look to close out the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Prudential Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
The Devils are 2-0 in the playoffs when they have an opportunity to close out a team, having beaten the Panthers in Game 7 of the first round and the Flyers in Game 5 of the conference semifinals.
Devils coach Peter DeBoer changed his lines after the team failed to score a goal in Game 3, and his re-shuffling worked as they won 4-1 in Game 4. He stuck with it in Game 5 and it was good enough for a 5-3 win, even though the Devils felt they were outplayed for large portions of the game and were lucky to get out of Madison Square Garden with a win.
NEW YORK -- Mats Zuccarello is healthy and ready to go. The only problem for the diminutive forward is finding a opening in the lineup.
"If they need me, I'll be ready," Zuccarello said following Rangers practice Thursday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
Zuccarello has not played since breaking his wrist March 23. He had surgery that cost him the rest of the regular season, but he has recovered to the point where he believes he can play. He has been skating with the Rangers' black aces of late, but his wrist is back at full strength.
Rangers coach John Tortorella made a lineup tweak before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, inserting Brandon Dubinsky in place of John Mitchell. Dubinsky missed 11 games with a lower-body injury suffered during Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals, but was playing regularly before the injury. Zuccarello had 2 goals in 10 regular-season games and spent most of the season playing for the Connecticut Whale of the AHL.
Barring injuries or suspensions, Zuccarello will likely be watching from the press box for Game 6 and beyond during the playoffs.
NEW YORK -- The Rangers will take a "been there, done that" approach into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Facing a 3-2 deficit in the best-of-seven series against the New Jersey Devils, the Rangers will fight for their postseason lives Friday night at Prudential Center. They faced the same situation in the first round against the Ottawa Senators and won two straight to avoid the upset.
"It was a tough day that day losing at home and having to travel to Ottawa," Rangers center Brad Richards said. "You could see the group is a lot looser today going through the same situation. That's how you grow, you build on everything you've done in your career. We've been fortunate to get a lot of those games this year already."
After staving off elimination twice against Ottawa, the Rangers won another Game 7 in the conference quarterfinals against the Capitals to improve to 3-0 with their season on the line. The Rangers entered the postseason filled with playoff neophytes, but they have become a far more grizzled team that relishes the pressure.
"We've been through these situations a lot this year, including in the playoffs," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "So I'm very comfortable as far as our mindset. Today was a good day for us. As we approach our game, I'm very comfortable in where we're going to go. It's a good group. It's a group that stays with it. So there's not a lot of panic there. They just go about their business and we're a pretty good hockey team.
"This is all really good stuff for our team as you go through. This is how you gain experience, by going through it. We've played a number of playoff games. Some guys have thrived in it, some guys haven't. These are all situations you look at as an organization as far as what guys are in these types of situations. So the more you're in it, the more situations that you go through, the better. That's how you gain experience."
The Devils feel they got away with one Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. They'd rather not tempt fate Friday at Prudential Center when they host the New York Rangers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
"We don't want to go back to Madison Square Garden [for a Game 7]," Patrik Elias said Thursday. "They play a little bit different hockey there. They feed off the crowd and the excitement there. We've got to play better than we did [in Game 5]."
New Jersey won Game 5 on Wednesday 5-3 to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, but the Devils can't shake the feeling that they stole a victory away from the Rangers, who controlled play and were able to be aggressive with puck possession for the middle 45-50 minutes.
The problem for the Rangers is New Jersey had a three-goal outburst in the first 10 minutes of the game, a result of a rebound, a deflection and a heavy wrister that most times would have been stopped by Vezina and Hart Trophy finalist Henrik Lundqvist. With the score tied 3-3 late in the third period, the aggressive Rangers had a defensive breakdown that led to Ryan Carter's winning goal with 4:24 remaining.
"I don't think there is one answer to that," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think it's a combination of things. When you have a 3-0 lead -- especially that early in the game -- you don't have that desperation that you have in a one-goal game and you change the way you're going to play. On the other side, the other team, and we've been there before, you loosen the strings. Your defensemen are up the ice, playing a little bit reckless, and a lot of times that puts the other team on their heels. The good news is I like the way we responded in the third period."
How do the Devils avoid having to respond that way again in the third period?
"Just play the same way that we know we can play," Elias said. "Be aggressive and dictate the tempo of the game. Try to out-work them, obviously."
Oh, and one more thing…
"Don't get too ahead of ourselves," Elias said. "Keep plugging away, doing the simple stuff and sticking with the game plan, and not worry about what is going to happen at the end of the night."
NEW YORK -- It wasn't quite worthy of being called a guarantee a la Mark Messier following Game 5 against New Jersey in 1994, but Rangers defenseman Marc Staal in his own quiet way did make an emphatic statement following the 5-3 loss in Game 5 Wednesday night.
"We'll regroup and get back and get the next one," Staal said in the somber home dressing room at Madison Square Garden.
Staal was then asked if the Rangers should have some hope going into Game 6, or if they should be crushed because they finally exerted their will and played the way they wanted to play against New Jersey and still could not come up with the victory.
Dubinsky has missed the last 11 games with a lower-body injury he suffered during Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals against the Ottawa Senators. He's participated in the Rangers' previous four practices and is ready to give the sagging squad some fresh legs.
In seven games against the Senators, Dubinsky had just one assist. But he will provide a boost both in the faceoff circle and on the penalty-killing unit.
NEW YORK -- If you lit a candle at Our Lady of the Struggling Rangers Goal Scorers, chances are coach John Tortorella thinks you've taken his statement from Tuesday a bit too far.
Following a brief practice, Tortorella was asked what he can do in order to get his best offensive players to play better in the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils. His one-word answer: "Pray."
"I know I used that word 'pray' yesterday," Tortorella said. "It was a joke. There are a lot more important things to pray about than a win or a goal. So can I clear that up, please?"
Gaborik and Hagelin don't have a point in the series, Richards hasn't scored a goal and Callahan's only goal was of the empty-net variety in Game 3. With the series tied 2-2, time is running out of those players to get themselves going, but Tortorella has, for a lack of a better word, faith they can turn it around.
"I have total confidence in our guys," Tortorella said. "It's a great opportunity for us and I'm looking forward to it."
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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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:
NEW YORK -- Getting a coach to reveal his lineup on a game day during the Stanley Cup Playoffs is akin to getting a government official to hand over top secret documents that could destroy national security.
So while Rangers coach John Tortorella didn't lay out his line combinations Wednesday morning for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils, he admitted change might be good for his slow-starting team in this dead-even series.
"We need something to happen for ourselves," Tortorella said. "We'll try different things, I'll give you that. But it's still a matter of getting it done. At least that's how I feel about it. So we'll see where it goes."
Brandon Prust will definitely return to the lineup after his one-game suspension and replace Stu Bickel, who is likely to return to his spot on the blue line and send Steve Eminger back to the press box. There's also the potential for the return of forward Brandon Dubinsky, who hasn't played since Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals against the Ottawa Senators.
Dubinsky suffered a lower-body injury that cost him the entire second-round series with the Washington Capitals, but he has practiced four of the past five days. He also exited Wednesday's optional morning skate early while forward John Mitchell remained on the ice with the healthy scratches, a sign Tortorella is going to swap the pair.
Dubinsky had just one assist in seven games against the Senators, but he could help in the faceoff circle. During the regular season, he won 51.9 percent of his draws. During the postseason, the Rangers have won 48 percent of faceoffs, 15th out of 16th teams -- only the Devils have won fewer faceoffs.
Here's a best guess at the Rangers' lineup for Game 5 against the Devils:
NEW YORK -- After serving a one-game suspension for a hit on the Devils' Anton Volchenkov in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Rangers forward Brandon Prust will be back for Game 5 on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
With Prust out of the lineup, defenseman Stu Bickel dressed as a forward in Game 4, but Bickel was back practicing with his fellow blueliners Tuesday. Prust has been a valuable part of the Rangers' checking line and penalty-killing unit, both of which were victimized for goals during the Devils' 4-1 victory Monday night that evened the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
"Prust does a lot for us, killing penalties, brings a lot of energy, hard on the forecheck," Rangers captain Ryan Callahan said. "We need to get our forecheck going. It's good to get him back."
There's no statistic for time of possession when it comes to which team has the puck more in a given contest, but the Devils have been controlling the puck for this entire series. They were at their best in that regard at times during Game 4, as the Rangers couldn't get out of their own end and were unable to muster any type of sustained forecheck.
It's hard to blame the lack of Prust for the power-play goal by Zach Parise in the third period, as the goal came four seconds into the man-advantage with regular penalty-killing forwards Boyle and Callahan on the ice. The Rangers killed five of six penalties in the game, but many of them featured the Devils seemingly more interested in burning clock than going for a fourth goal.
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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."
"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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NEW YORK -- The Rangers looked like they didn't have a prayer against the Devils during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, a 4-1 win by New Jersey on Monday night that evened the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
It appears Rangers coach John Tortorella is willing to explore a more religious avenue to get his team going.
The Rangers have nine goals through four games of this series -- two are empty-netters, three are from defensemen and three are from rookie Chris Kreider. Callahan, Richards, Gaborik and Hagelin have combined for one goal and four assists, with Gaborik and Hagelin failing to register a point.
When coaching isn't getting the job done, perhaps it doesn't hurt to turn to a higher power.
"I don't know what else to tell you," Tortorella said. "We're going to keep on trying to play, pray, and hopefully something good happens tomorrow."
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NEWARK, N.J. -- Bryce Salvador used to be a sniper -- when he was 10 years old, that is.
"I know I lit it up," Salvador said.
It might be time to call him one again, because Salvador is lighting it up for the New Jersey Devils in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Salvador got the Devils going in their 4-1 win against the Rangers on Monday with his third goal of the playoffs 8:10 into the first period. It was a low wrist shot from the left point that skipped on the ice just before going through Henrik Lundqvist's five-hole.
NEWARK, N.J. -- Wearing a neutral white shirt, showing no favoritism to the Rangers or the Devils, Eric LeGrand was just happy to have parked his motorized wheelchair in the area behind Section 17 at Prudential Center to catch some playoff hockey.
LeGrand, the former Rutgers University football player, became paralyzed on the field on Oct. 16, 2010. He is working hard in his recovery and in the meantime is, in his own words, "starting to become a die-hard hockey fan."
The New Jersey native has attended regular-season and playoff games at Madison Square Garden, but Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals was his first at Prudential Center.
"I am a Jersey guy, so I have to pull for the Devils a little bit," LeGrand told NHL.com as the Devils and Rangers went through pre-game warmups behind him. "But, you know, I just want to see a good game out here."
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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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.
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NEW YORK -- With Brandon Prust out of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals due to a one-game suspension, the Rangers will likely turn to a defenseman to fill the vacated spot at forward.
Stu Bickel, who played four games as a forward in February with the Rangers battling injuries, was dressed as a forward during the Rangers' morning skate at Madison Square Garden on Monday. Bickel was a healthy scratch for Game 3, but is ready to make the adjustment to forward to replace Prust.
Bickel wouldn't reveal for sure if he was in the lineup, but said there was a small adjustment to playing as a fourth-line forward.
"I don't know what's going on as far as tonight goes," Bickel said. "It's still the same game. We all know the systems and everything like that. I don't think it was too tough. It maybe took me a couple shifts. I don't remember that far back exactly how it went. I don't think it was too bad."
Forward Brandon Dubinsky practiced for the third time in four days (the Rangers did not have a practice or morning skate before Game 3) but stayed on the ice long after Bickel went to the locker room and will not play in Game 4. Dubinsky's presence would've given the Rangers more flexibility on the penalty kill, a role Prust has played all season but Bickel has not.
With Dubinsky out of the lineup since Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals, the Rangers have sprinkled the shorthanded ice time among forwards between five main guys -- Brian Boyle, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, Prust and Ruslan Fedotenko. Dubinsky has played a major role on the PK all season, but his absence leaves the Rangers with just four steady penalty-killing forwards.
The next-busiest penalty-killing forwards after that group of six during the postseason are Brad Richards (20 seconds per game) and Artem Anisimov (19 seconds per game). Should the Rangers find themselves in a lot of shorthanded situations against the Devils, they will likely have to call on their depth to help kill the penalties.
The Rangers found a way to get by during the conference quarterfinals with Carl Hagelin lost for three games due to a suspension, as rookie Chris Kreider filled the opening and is now the Rangers' second-leading goal scorer in the playoffs with five.
With Prust out, someone else will need to step up for one game.
"He's a big guy for us. He plays in a lot of key situations," Callahan said of Prust. "He's a guy who brings energy to us. It's an opportunity for someone to step up and step in. You saw earlier in the playoffs when we lost a guy like Hags and Kreids steps in and he plays big. It's an opportunity for somebody and somebody has to grab a hold of it."
The Rangers did not hold a full practice and therefore did not reveal any potential line combinations. But if Bickel replaces Prust, here's what the lineup could potentially look like against the Devils as the Rangers look to extend their lead in the best-of-seven series to 3-1.
NEW YORK -- Rangers coach John Tortorella made a point Sunday to say while Brandon Prust delivered a hit to the head of Anton Volchenkov during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, perhaps the NHL should look at a hit the Devils' Dainius Zubrus had on Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman in the same game.
Prust received a one-game ban for his hit and will be out of the lineup for Game 4 on Monday night, but Zubrus' alleged illegal hit went unpunished. At about the eight-minute mark of the second period of Game 3, Zubrus can be seen knocking Stralman to the ice, but Stralman said Monday morning that he had no recollection of that hit.
"I didn't feel anything," Stralman said. "I haven't seen it. I don't know what it looks like. I'm looking forward to the game tonight."
Stralman is sporting a black right eye, but that was from a hit he received earlier in the playoffs and not from Zubrus.
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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.
"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:
NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Peter DeBoer had one word to describe the gamesmanship comments made by Rangers coach John Tortorella on Sunday.
"Comical," DeBoer said, without elaborating any further.
In defense of DeBoer saying Brandon Prust was "headhunting, plain and simple" when he hit Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov in the head with an elbow -- a play that earned Prust a disciplinary hearing Sunday morning with the NHL's Department of Player Safety -- Tortorella went off on a rant about how the Devils stay down on the ice to try to draw calls from the officials.
Tortorella specifically pointed out what he viewed as Dainius Zubrus elbowing Anton Stralman and Zach Parise "launching himself" at Michael Del Zotto. He also talked about the Devils using an illegal pick as a set play on the power play to stop the Rangers defensemen from blocking shots.
"There's some gamesmanship right there, huh?" Tortorella said.
The Devils don't know or understand what Tortorella is talking about, especially his remarks about staying down on the ice to draw penalties.
"I don't pay attention to that and I don't know of anyone in here that has done that, unless they're referring to Volchenkov, when he got elbowed in the head," Parise said. "I mean, I don't think anyone in here has done that. Maybe he saw something differently, but I don't think we've done that at all."
Zubrus couldn't even remember a hit on Stralman.
"I don't know what (Tortorella's) thought process is, what's he's thinking," Zubrus said. "The hit on Volchy got quite a bit of attention. Maybe they want to turn the attention away from that."
Asked if he heard from the League about an elbow on Stralman, Zubrus said no.
"I didn't know about any of this until you guys (the media) told me," he added.
NEWARK, N.J. -- The Devils don't want to heap too much praise on Henrik Lundqvist, but as a four-time Vezina Trophy winner and a fan of the position, Martin Brodeur certainly admires what the Rangers goalie is doing.
"Oh yeah, he's impressive," Brodeur said after practice Sunday. "I think it's a combination of the way that the players are playing in front of him, him making the big saves, controlling his game. What can you say? He's been good. We expected that. He's not surprising anybody. I know he's not surprising me. I know he's that good. We just have to find a way.
"We found a way against (Jean-Sebastien) Giguere in '03. We'll find a way against him."
Brodeur is, of course, referring to the Devils finding a way to get the best of Giguere in the 2003 Stanley Cup Final. Giguere won the Conn Smythe Trophy, but the Devils won the Stanley Cup with a 3-0 win in Game 7 at the Meadowlands.
Lundqvist would be considered a Conn Smythe Trophy favorite if he gets past the Devils. He made 36 saves for the 3-0 win in Game 3 and afterward Devils coach Peter DeBoer gave him credit for being the difference.
"Let's face it, he's playing really well. He's played well all season, all playoffs," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "I think it's important for us to not overanalyze and keep shooting, not pass up opportunities. Just keep shooting. We're getting the chances and they will go in; we just can't allow ourselves to pass up opportunities. Again, it just comes down to us taking advantage of our plays."
NEWARK, N.J. -- Petr Sykora has played in every game this season for the Devils after not playing in the NHL at all last season. It's a run of 97 straight games played that Sykora says he's quite proud of.
It's also a streak that will likely come to an end Monday.
Sykora is expected to be a healthy scratch in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Rangers. Jacob Josefson is healthy again after fracturing his wrist on April 3 and in all likelihood will take Sykora's place in the lineup as the Devils try to even the series at Prudential Center.
"It's kind of fresh to me right now," Sykora said after staying on the ice for an extra-long workout after practice Sunday. "I haven't really had time to think about it. Just come in (Monday), stay in shape and just wait until I get a chance again."
Sykora has no points in the last four games and just two goals and two assists in 15 playoff games. He had a goal and an assist to help the Devils win Game 4 against Philadelphia, but has been silent since with only six shots on goal.
"Those are some of the tough decisions you have to make in the playoffs," said Devils coach Peter DeBoer, who also noted the lineup is not finalized yet.
That said, it certainly seems likely that Sykora will not play in Game 4. He was asked how he thinks he has played in the first three games against the Rangers, but Sykora said it's not a fair question for him to answer.
"It's hard to judge yourself the way you play, because you always think you're playing good," Sykora said. "Other people should judge how you play because they see you from the top and they see how you play."
DeBoer and his coaching staff must not have liked what they've seen from Sykora of late.
"I didn't miss a game, but that doesn't mean anything right now," Sykora said.
NEWARK, N.J. -- After getting shut out in Game 3, the Devils changed up their top three lines at practice Sunday complete with a new addition to the lineup for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday.
The Rangers lead the series 2-1 after winning 3-0 on Sunday. The Devils had 36 shots on goal, but couldn't solve Henrik Lundqvist.
"It's been fairly common practice for us to move people around when we haven't had success scoring goals," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "It's a little different situation. I thought we generated a lot of quality chances (in Game 3). The easy thing would be to stick with it, hope you come out next game do the same thing and score. But, we've decided to shuffle some things around and I think we'll get some results from that."
Jacob Josefson, who hasn't played since fracturing his left wrist against the Islanders on April 3, said he will play Monday. Petr Sykora is expected to come out of the lineup to make room for Josefson, who will likely center the Devils third line between Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson.
"He's been an effective guy for us and we missed him while he was out," DeBoer said of Josefson.
However, Elias will likely move to the left wing and Kovalchuk, although it appeared he was playing on the left side in practice Sunday, expects to stay on the right wing, where he has played for virtually the entire season.
DeBoer admitted moving Elias to the wing could take some of the pressure off of him. He has zero points in the last five games and just five points in 15 playoff games.
"It takes some of the responsibility off him to work low in our end and to create offense at the other end," DeBoer said. "Hopefully that translates to some offense."
The top line now has Zajac in between Parise and Zubrus. That has been a line for the Devils in the past, before DeBoer even got to New Jersey.
"Two seasons ago we played with Zubie a little bit, me and Zach, but I don't think we have to read into it too much," Zajac said. "I don't think at this time it matters who you are playing with. We have been playing well and if we do the right things we are going to be successful, get our chances."
NEW YORK -- Brandon Dubinsky, who hasn't played since Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals, was on the ice Sunday for the Rangers' optional practice at Madison Square Garden.
It's the second time Dubinsky has practiced since injuring his ankle and first time he wasn't wearing a non-contact jersey.
"It's nice to be back with the guys," said Dubinsky, who offered no timeline for his return. "It's nice to shoot some pucks on a goalie. It just feels good to be around and actually get a chance to jump on the ice."
If Rangers' forward Brandon Prust is suspended for his hit to the head of Anton Volchenkov in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday, coach John Tortorella isn't sure what that will do to his lineup for Game 4 Monday night.
"I don't know what I'm going to do with the lineup," Tortorella said. "I don't think he should be suspended. So I really haven't gone that far, because I don't think he should be."
On Sunday, Rangers coach John Tortorella responded to that comment by defending Prust and accusing the Devils of embellishing calls and setting illegal picks during their power plays.
"He's probably one of the most honest players," Tortorella said, before launching into a a big chunk of gamesmanship. "I look at (Dainius Zubrus') elbow to (Anton) Stralman. I look at (Zach) Parise launching himself at (Michael) Del Zotto. Maybe if our players stay down on the ice, we'll get something. We tell our players don't stay down on the ice, get up.
"The picking on the power play. If we want to start discussing officials with the media, I've got a long list here. That's a set play by Jersey -- picking so we can't get to (Ilya) Kovalchuk to block his shot. There's some gamesmanship right there, huh?"
The hit by Prust did not draw a penalty, but it did earn him a hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety Sunday morning. He explained the hit following an optional practice at Madison Square Garden, saying Volchenkov ducked into the hit at the last moment.
"I was just trying to get in a check before I was at the end of a shift," Prust said. "I was skating over for a routine check to rub him out and get off the ice and he bailed out of it and turned and kind of went low. It's just kind of a reaction when you're off-balance and your arms go up. I didn't want to do a face-plant into the boards. I had no intent to hit him in the head there."
In regards to the intentional interference with the Devils on the power play, Tortorella was referencing Kovalchuk's goal in Game 2. The puck was moved quickly from the right side of the zone to the left side, and a wide-open Kovalchuk was able to snap a shot over the catching glove of Henrik Lundqvist.
One of the reasons Kovalchuk was all alone was the Devils' Patrik Elias getting in the way of Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi.
"There's been a few times when they try to get in the way in front of the net," Rangers defenseman Marc Staal said. "It's obviously something they've talked about and they're trying to do. We're trying to do our best to get around that, but sometimes you can't and it creates an opportunity for their team. It's more noticeable against these guys. For us as 'D' you want to try to stay loose in case something breaks down. Hopefully this gets the radar up a little bit and helps us out."
As for the notion that the Devils are trying to buy calls by staying down on the ice, Prust said he was surprised that Volchenkov didn't get up right away.
"I didn't even know I elbowed him," Prust said. "I went to the bench and thought maybe I caught him with my knee, maybe charlie-horsed him. I didn't hit him that hard. I think I just grazed his helmet and it slid up. For sure, he's trying to get a penalty when your helmet comes up. It's just natural trying to sell that."
"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."
NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Pete DeBoer had no interest in analyzing Game 3 by the plays that made the difference in the Rangers' 3-0 win Saturday.
After giving Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist full credit for being the difference in the Rangers grabbing a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals, DeBoer was asked if the couple of shifts prior to Dan Girardi's power-play goal 3:19 into the third period hurt the Devils.
NEWARK, N.J. -- The Rangers have a change in their lineup for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Steve Eminger will replace Stu Bickel and play on the blue line for the first time in the playoffs. He will be paired with Michael Del Zotto.
Eminger played 4:25 of ice time as a fourth-line forward in Game 1 against Washington on April 28. The last time he played a game on defense was March 15 against Pittsburgh.
Bickel played only 4:13 in Game 2 and was on the ice for David Clarkson's game-winning goal in the third period. He has played in every game in the playoffs, but has received over seven minutes of ice time on only three occasions (Game 3 vs. Ottawa, Games 4 and 5 against Washington). He is a minus-2 with four penalty minutes.
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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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:
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- We already know that coach John Tortorella insists the Rangers are not a tired team despite playing back-to-back seven-game series, but they do get tired during shifts, especially when they're working so hard just to get the puck out of the defensive zone and into the attacking zone.
Brad Richards said the key for Game 3 Saturday is cleanly moving the puck up the ice. If they can do that, then the Rangers feel they will be able to keep the Devils hemmed in their zone.
It sounds obvious, like something every team in every game wants to do, but through two games in the Eastern Conference Finals, turning breakouts into offensive-zone time has been a difficult task for the Rangers to accomplish.
"We've got to get pucks down there, get them working in their zone and tire them out down there," Richards said. "It's a lot easier to play in the offensive zone, and we spend the first part of our shifts trying to get out of the zone. We just have to get down there."
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Considering the Rangers have struggled along the boards against the Devils through two games, it's not all that surprising that coach John Tortorella was experimenting with a new line of Brian Boyle between Mike Rupp and Artem Anisimov in practice Friday.
Size matters when you want to win battles along the boards, and the Rangers don't have any three bigger forwards (John Scott is not an option) -- Boyle is 6-foot-7; Rupp is 6-foot-5; Anisimov is 6-foot-4.
If Boyle, Rupp and Anisimov are together, they will be tasked with pounding the Devils along the walls. New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer talked Thursday about how his team is a "heavy team" on the puck, with their sticks, in the corners and on the walls, and the Rangers haven't adequately been able to match that yet.
"Our game all year has been hold onto pucks in the offensive zone and play in those tough areas," Rupp said. "New Jersey is doing the same and right now we're losing that battle. We need to find ways to hold on to pucks in those areas. That's what I know I'm going to look to do in the next game, and a bunch of us will look to better that."
Added Tortorella: "No matter who it is, when you're at this point in the season, you're playing against teams that we're playing against, Jersey, and the other two teams playing in the West, that's a big part of playoff hockey," Tortorella said of strong board play. "That's a big part of who we are, and we certainly have to be more consistent with that part."
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The Rangers had been icing the identical lineup and combinations to start a game since the end of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but that all changed Friday afternoon at practice.
Coach John Tortorella moved Mike Rupp from the fourth line to the third line and dropped Ruslan Fedotenko to the fourth line. The third line now features more size and strength with the 6-foot-7, 244-pound Brian Boyle in the middle, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Artem Anisimov on the left wing and the 6-foot-5, 243-pound Rupp on the right.
The Rangers felt they lost too many puck battles along the wall in their 3-2 loss to the Devils in Game 2 of the conference finals. Adding more beef to the checking line could help solve that problem.
"That's a big part of how we play," Tortorella said. "Big, small or medium build, we play hard along the boards. Obviously that was void the other night."
Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Prudential Center, so there will be no morning skate before the game. These are the lines the Devils can expect to face when the puck is dropped with the series tied 1-1.
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Rangers forward Brandon Dubinsky practiced Friday for the first time since April 27 while wearing an orange non-contact jersey.
Dubinsky suffered an undisclosed lower-body injury in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Ottawa Senators and has been out since that time.
The 26-year-old stayed on the ice for about 20 minutes Friday before exiting to the locker room. Rangers coach John Tortorella offered no timetable for Dubinsky's return.
"He was on the ice," Tortorella said. "Other than that, there's no update."
Dubinsky has one assist in seven games this postseason.
In other injury news, forward Mats Zuccarello (wrist) is no longer skating with the regular group and is instead practicing with the black aces called up from Connecticut of the AHL. Zuccarello is still not ready to play, but his skating with the healthy scratches is a strong indicator that even when he's healthy, he won't crack the lineup barring an injury to a teammate.
When facing elimination in the first round, the Rangers won back-to-back games to dispatch the Ottawa Senators. It’s the only time they've won back to back games in a series this postseason, but they are three wins shy of reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 18 years because, as coach John Tortorella said, they don't dwell on the past.
"You have a short-term memory come playoff time," Tortorella said during a conference call Thursday. "Playoffs are a whole different animal. We don't spend too much time talking about streaks. We just spend time trying to make corrections in our game, trying to be better in the things we think we need to be better for our next game, and go about our business."
Tortorella said the Rangers weren't nearly good enough against the Devils in Game 2 Wednesday.
"We look for what we do and we didn't do for a number of minutes," he said. "I'll put it to you that way; we just didn't do for a number of minutes in that game, and that's something that needs to be rectified."
The Rangers have been good at rectifying in these playoffs. They may only have won back-to-back games in a series once, but they've lost back-to-back games only once as well.
They'll try to avoid it happening again in Game 3 Saturday at Prudential Center (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).
"We want to try to win a couple in a row, but the other team doesn't want to lose a couple in a row," Tortorella said. "You play and each team is trying to find their way. We didn't [Wednesday]. We moved by it. We learned from it. Hopefully we're going to be a better team come Saturday."
"There aren't many," DeBoer said. "He's right at the top of the list. What makes him special is, you've got guys like that that play on your fourth line on every team. They're there because of their relentless work ethic, but what separates [Parise] is he's got world-class skill and world-class hockey sense on top of that. That's the special combination Zach has."
Parise has certainly been front and center during the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring for the Devils. He has four goals, nine points, 36 hits and a team-leading 12 takeaways in 14 postseason games. He ranks second on the team among forwards in ice time (21:16) and ranks first with 57 shots on goal.
The experience of playing in his first Eastern Conference Finals series has been exciting. He's hoping the Devils can continue in Game 3 on Saturday at Prudential Center where they left off at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday in locking down a 3-2 victory.
"This series has been everything that we were anticipating really from the hockey standpoint," Parise said. "We expected tight games. We expected not a lot of room out there from either team and games down to the wire. I guess from everything else surrounding it, it's definitely more media coverage than we've ever seen, so that part is a little different than the attention that it's getting.
"But I think that's what you kind of have to expect when you're still playing at this time of the year."
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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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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.
NEW YORK -- The New York Rangers likely will ice the same lineup for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS) as they did in Game 1.
The Rangers have shuffled lines, but they have used the same personnel since center Brian Boyle returned from a concussion for Game 2 of the conference semifinals against the Washington Capitals.
Here's what to expect when the team takes the ice:
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.
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."
"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."
"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:
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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Only Erixon and Newbury have spent time with the Rangers this season. The group will serve as spare players -- the Black Aces -- and likely practice separately from the rest of the team going forward.
The 19-year-old Miller was the Rangers' first-round pick (No. 15) in the 2011 Entry Draft. Prior to joining the Whale, where he had one point in eight playoffs games, he played 61 games with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League, totaling 25 goals and 37 assists.
McIlrath, 20, made his professional debut with Connecticut on April 9 against Bridgeport, and skated in two regular-season games with the Whale. The Rangers' 2010 first-round pick also appeared in five playoff games with Connecticut. Prior to joining Connecticut, McIlrath had three goals and a career-high 20 assists in 52 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League.
Talbot, 24, posted a 14-15-1 record with a 2.61 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and four shutouts in 33 games with Connecticut.
Wellman, 24, split the season between Connecticut and the Houston Aeros, totaling 23 goals and 24 assists in 57 games. Wellman joined Connecticut on Feb. 3 after the Rangers acquired him from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Erik Christensen and a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
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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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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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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NEW YORK -- Here are the potential line combinations and defense pairings the Rangers will employ for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils, which should be what they used two nights ago when they eliminated the Washington Capitals in Game 7 of the conference semifinals.
Brandon Dubinsky (lower body) was seen walking through the locker room Monday morning and working out, but he remains out of the lineup and has not practiced in more than two weeks. Mats Zuccarello (wrist) is still working his way back to 100 percent, but he hasn't been taking shots at full strength during practices. Both won't be in the lineup for Game 1.
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.
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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Not surprisingly, coach John Tortorella, to put it nicely, doesn't lend much credence to that statistic.
"That's a bunch of (hogwash)," he said Monday morning.
Statistics that extend 25 years into the past can either be looked at as having deep meaning or so old that they are completely irrelevant. Last season the Boston Bruins won their first-round series in seven games and went on to win the Cup, becoming the first team to accomplish that feat since the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992.
The always insightful Ruslan Fedotenko, who is 6-0 in Game 7s in his career and scored twice in Game 7 when the Lightning won the Cup in 2004, offered his thoughts on what statistics mean to him.
"Statistics are all in the past. It doesn't matter what we did in the past," Fedotenko said. "I scored two goals in Game 7, but does that matter? Did I score last two games? No, it doesn't really matter. What's in the past is in the past and there's always a record to break and always a new record to set and things to do. To me, it doesn't matter.
"Each round is different. Each team is different. There's different circumstances, different things. I don't believe in stats, or, 'Oh, I'm 6-0, that means for sure I'm 7-0.' No, it's absolutely not. It doesn't matter what's in the past. It's good in the past I was able to be on the winning side, but it doesn't matter going forward. That's my point of view."
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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.
"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."
NEW YORK --Mike Rupp has experienced the Rangers-Devils rivalry from both sides of the Hudson River, and he distinctly remembers the first time he realized how heated it was as a rookie in New Jersey even before playing against New York.
Rupp scored two goals in his first NHL game on Jan. 13, 2003, against the Florida Panthers at Continental Airlines Arena, but he immediately picked up on how much Devils fans hated the Rangers during that contest.
"I just remember the chants when I was playing in New Jersey, the old famous chant when you're playing the Florida Panthers and they're saying, "Rangers (stink)!" Rupp said. "That's the one thing I remember the most, so I thought there must be something to it. It's obviously something special."
Rupp signed with the Rangers this past summer and has experienced six games from the other side of the rivalry this season. He'll take part in a seventh Monday when the Rangers and Devils open their Eastern Conference Finals series at Madison Square Garden.
The 32-year-old enforcer, just like every player who will lace up the skates for this series, said while it's fun for the fans, the opposition doesn't matter when a trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line.
"I don't know. I think if you were facing them in the first round, maybe it would feel more like it, if that makes sense," Rupp said. "Right now, we're four wins away from getting to where you've been working so hard to get to as a team. I don't really think about that. I really don't. I don't look at them as me playing for them or one of our biggest rivals. That's kind of nonexistent right now. Now it's about winning hockey games. It doesn't matter who it's against."
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Brandon Dubinsky strolled through the Rangers locker room Saturday morning without the aid of a walking boot or crutches, but his lower-body injury doesn't seem to have healed enough to allow him to play in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Dubinsky said Sunday he is still not ready to return to action against the New Jersey Devils Monday night at Madison Square Garden. He was back in the walking boot but itching to play against the rival Devils.
"It's exciting to watch us win and move on to the next round, and it gives me hope and allows me to have something to keep working for, looking forward to coming back and helping this team," Dubinsky told reporters in Greenburgh, N.Y. "It's unfortunate not being able to play, but lucky enough for me the team is winning without me in the lineup. But I think I can still help this team, so it's just a matter of getting back as fast as I can."
Dubinsky suffered his injury during Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals against the Ottawa Senators and missed the entire second-round series against Washington Capitals. In seven games against the Senators, Dubinsky had one assist.
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."
"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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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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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:
It's a little different but it feels amazing. A new chapter in my life and I'm excited. It's been amazing. Better than I expected. The weather is great, the place is just amazing. I can't say enough good things about it. I'm glad to get the season going.
— Ryan Kesler on his transition to the Anaheim Ducks