Devils expect Flyers to rally around loss of Giroux

Tuesday, 05.08.2012 / 1:14 PM
Mike G. Morreale  - Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- It was only a week ago that the New Jersey Devils rallied for a stirring three-goal victory at Wells Fargo Center without the services of injured star Ilya Kovalchuk in their lineup.

The win ignited a three-game winning streak that now has the Devils in complete control of their Eastern Conference Semifinal against the Philadelphia Flyers.

In Game 5 on Tuesday back in Philadelphia (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC), New Jersey is determined to make certain history doesn't repeat itself.

"Desperation in this game is critical and fear in the belly of being beaten or embarrassed is always there," Devils coach Pete DeBoer told the media following his team's morning skate at Wells Fargo on Tuesday.

The Flyers will be without their star center, Claude Giroux, who on Monday was suspended one game by the League for delivering an illegal check to the head of Devils forward Dainius Zubrus late in the second period of Game 4.

"We know how good Philadelphia is," DeBoer said. "We know how dangerous they are. We saw it first-hand against Pittsburgh and that's been a big part of our game. You take Giroux out, you know they are going to have some of that in their gut."

It's possible the Flyers will view the situation just as the Devils did back in Game 2 on May 1 and rally around the absence of their playoff scoring leader and inspirational force. The Devils want to make certain that doesn't happen.

"We don't want to drag this series on any longer and we know how we rallied when we were missing Kovy, so we need to keep playing the same way and doing what we've been doing," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "He's a big part of their power play and plays a lot of minutes, and a lot of their offense goes through him. It is similar to when we were missing Kovy … everyone elevated their game, and I would expect the same out of them."

New Jersey leads the best-of-seven, 3-1, and would like nothing more than to end this series in five games and advance to the conference final for the first time in eight seasons.

"That's what we'd like to do, but this is a tough building to play in," Devils forward Patrik Elias said. "Just because they don't have Giroux doesn't mean they're going to give up. We know what could happen when your top player is out … the team rallies around that and just battles hard. For us, it's a matter of staying the course."

Zubrus said he agreed with the explanation regarding Giroux's suspension.

"I saw [Brendan Shanahan's] explanation … he called it as he saw it, and I can't say I disagree with him," Zubrus said. "We know it's something they'll rally around, at least we're thinking they will. They're in front of their home crowd, and there is no tomorrow for them if they lose, so I'm sure they'll come out with their best game."

DeBoer agreed with that assessment.

"It's a great rallying point and when you create that type of adversity, if you have character guys, you usually respond and we're expecting them to respond with their best game," DeBoer said. "I don't know technically what they'll do without Giroux, but they're not going to be sitting there waiting for him to score a goal. Different guys are going to try to step up and they're going to try to get contributions from everybody and get their four lines going like we've gotten ours."

Devils defenseman Mark Fayne said it is certainly in his team's best interest to end the series on Tuesday.

"It's definitely a big game for us because if they win, then they get Giroux back in the lineup and going back to New Jersey could be a tough game to play," Fayne said. "So we'd really like to close it out."

DeBoer was asked if he felt the Giroux suspension was fair.

"You don't like to see anyone get suspended," DeBoer said. "I know Claude Giroux. He's a great player and he's not a dirty player. But it's a dangerous hit, and we're fortunate there wasn't a series injury."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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