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Posted On Monday, 05.14.2012 / 12:52 PM

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

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

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

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

All-American captains Parise, Callahan set to battle

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

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Posted On Monday, 05.14.2012 / 12:28 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Past history, stats hardly a concern to Rangers

NEW YORK -- Since the NHL went to a best-of-seven format for all four rounds in 1987, no team has won the Stanley Cup after playing 14 games over the first two rounds.

The New York Rangers will play their 15th game of the postseason Monday night when they host the New Jersey Devils in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

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."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo

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Posted On Monday, 05.14.2012 / 12:26 PM

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

Projected Game 1 lineup for Devils

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the team's probable lineup for Monday:

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

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

Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Monday, 05.14.2012 / 12:16 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Rupp well-schooled in Rangers-Devils rivalry

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."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Sunday, 05.13.2012 / 5:23 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Dubinsky still not ready to return to the lineup

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.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Sunday, 05.13.2012 / 2:38 PM

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

Parise doesn't expect repeat of MSG brawl

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

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

Devils' Gionta plenty familiar with rivalry

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

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

Devils ready for Game 1 against Rangers

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

The Rangers, meanwhile, are tops among the four remaining playoff teams in blocked shots (267); the Devils have 131.
 
"I think it's a matter of our defense getting shots off quickly," Parise said. "I think when you find you wind up for those big slappers, that gives them time to get into the lane and block shots. If they can get the shots off quickly, their forwards play pretty low, so getting them off quickly will benefit us. Get it past the first guy and giving our forwards a way to get the puck back if it's not going to get on net.
 
"I don't think it changes our game plan or mentality though. A lot of teams block shots nowadays and you just have to find ways through it."
 
Here were the line combinations during Devils practice on Sunday:
 
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - David Clarkson
Petr Sykora - Adam Henrique - Dainius Zubrus
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
Extras: Eric Boulton - Tim Sestito - Cam Janssen
 
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Anton Volchenkov - Adam Larsson
Extras: Matt Taormina - Peter Harrold
 
Martin Brodeur
Johan Hedberg
 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Wednesday, 05.09.2012 / 11:03 PM

NHL.com - Rangers vs. Devils series blog

Border rivals begin duel on Monday

The Rangers host their neighbors from New Jersey in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final Monday night at 8pm ET (NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
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