NEWARK, N.J. -- Adam Henrique had two full days away from the rink to enjoy his goal in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final that pushed the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 2003 and sent the rival Rangers packing for the season.
Despite the opportunity to rest and bask in the glow of the biggest goal of his career before turning his attention to the Kings, he didn't use it to watch his overtime heroics until he burned out his retinas.
"I saw it once," Henrique said Monday, as the Devils returned to practice to begin preparations for the Cup Final against Los Angeles, which gets under way Wednesday night at Prudential Center. "I watched it once on MSG there. It was pretty cool."
Devils coach Peter DeBoer ran his team through a lengthy 80-minute practice on Memorial Day, a national holiday in the United States to honor men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Many Americans spend the day outside sharing hamburgers and laughs with friends and family. The Devils, however, found themselves inside Amerihealth Pavilion getting ready for perhaps the toughest team they've faced this postseason.
That's just fine for Henrique, who spent last Memorial Day in a far less stressful environment.
"I was working out and training for this year," Henrique said. "Barbecuing, sitting in the sun. I had a little bit of a tan. I'll take this any day.
"Today is back to normal, back to work. Obviously we don't see the Kings that much during the year, so it's a little different, but we watched video to try to find their tendencies, what they're doing. At the same time, we have to focus on ourselves and how we need to play in order to be successful, how we need to keep our game the same."
The eighth-seeded Kings stormed through the Western Conference this postseason, beating the Presidents' Trophy-winning Canucks in five games, sweeping the second-seeded Blues and dispatching the third-seeded Coyotes in five games. If there are any holes in the Kings' game, an electron microscope would be required to see it.
The Kings are averaging 2.93 goals per game, third to only the Penguins and Flyers, both of whom have been working on their short game on the golf course for several weeks. The Kings are allowing a League-low 1.57 goals per game, nearly a half-goal better than their next-closest competitor. They eliminated the Coyotes last Wednesday, and while that may translate into rust, the Kings are going to start the Final healthy and rested.
Offensively, the Kings boast just as much depth as the Devils -- and perhaps even more size and strength. Dustin Brown (7 goals, 9 assists) and Anze Kopitar (6 goals, 9 assists) lead the team in scoring, but Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Dustin Penner provide more secondary scoring than some teams have primary scoring.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick had Vezina-worthy numbers in the regular season and he's bested them in the postseason. In 14 games, Quick has a 1.54 goals-against average, .946 save percentage and two shutouts. His defense corps, led by Drew Doughty, is one of the most complete in the League.
The Devils went 2-0 against the Kings in the regular season, but that was long before Los Angeles added Carter via trade, fired coach Terry Murray and hired Darryl Sutter, and discovered a scoring touch that was missing for most of the regular season.
"They're a good team. They're a big team," Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "We looked at them a little bit today, we'll do some more tomorrow and gameday also. It's definitely a different challenge when you don't see them a lot. Last time we played them, it was two games in early October. A lot has changed since then. They've been playing really well on the road (8-0 in the playoffs), so we know the compete level will be there. It'll be interesting. It's a feeling-out process, especially now because we're learning about the way they play and do things out there."
For Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador, who is tied for 10th in playoff scoring with 11 points after registering just nine points in 82 regular-season games, it's about not getting caught up in everything the Kings can do -- it's about the Devils dictating the pace and focusing on themselves.
"When we have success, it's when we're playing our game," Salvador said. "The last three rounds, we just tried not to focus too much on all the things the other team may or may not do, because you don't want to get sidetracked. You can see the success they've had -- they're a big, fast team. They have an offensive edge to them, so they have the size and they have offensive skill. It's really a matter of making sure we stick to our game plan and execute for a whole 60 minutes."
The Devils are back in the Cup Final for the first time since 2003, a nine-year absence for one of the NHL's top-tier teams over the past 20 years. The 40-year-old Brodeur was asked about finally getting back to the Final to face the Kings and did his best to put everything in perspective.
"I'm sure a lot of organizations would like to say that," Brodeur said of two trips to the Cup Final in nine years. "We've been fortunate to have a lot of success here and a nine-year span with 30 teams, it's not that bad. But we expect our teams to be in there all the time. We're definitely looking forward to the challenge. It's been a great ride, and everyone is really excited."
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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