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Devils gear up for Philly showdown

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Regular-season trends don’t always carry over into the playoffs. But the Devils know they will need to get better results against the Philadelphia Flyers in order to win their upcoming Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.

Jersey’s Team beat Buffalo, 2-1, on Sunday to set up the I-95 showdown. The Devils clinched the second seed in the conference, and the Flyers topped the Rangers, 2-1 in a shootout, to lock up seventh.

The series opens Wednesday at Prudential Center.

The Devils' lone win against the Flyers in the regular season was a 4-1 decision at the Rock on Dec. 12. Patrik Elias scored twice and Martin Brodeur made 22 saves for the victory.

That snapped a string of back-to-back losses to the Flyers. The Devils went 0-2-1 in their last three encounters with their divisional rivals, most recently a 5-1 road loss on March 28.

"They controlled us pretty well," Jamie Langenbrunner said. "They stomped us the first game. We didn't play well in their building too many times. We need to understand what they do and be ready for that. I don't think we did that during the regular season. We weren't prepared mentally for the way they're going to play. We have to be disciplined, know the way they're going to play and take advantage of mistakes they make."

There wasn't one area that head coach Jacques Lemaire thought needed improvement against the Flyers.

"To me, everywhere," Lemaire said. "Our power play didn’t go well. Our penalty kill, not as good as it could be. Even the forechecking, and our chances – we have to get more chances."

New Jersey also hopes to rebound from back-to-back playoff exits. They were eliminated by the Rangers in 2008 after going 1-4-3 against them in the regular season. Last year, they lost in seven games to Carolina after posting a 1-3-0 mark in the season series.

This year, the Devils want to put their 1-4-1 regular-season record versus the Flyers in the past before starting the playoffs.

“Everybody’s going to tell you when the playoffs start, it’s a new season, so don’t even bother think about it,” Elias said Sunday.

This will be the fourth postseason meeting between the teams, and first since 2004, when the Devils dropped a five-game opening-round series.

Jersey’s Team iced the Flyers in six games of the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals before marching to the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. In the 2000 Conference Finals, the Devils famously rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Flyers and capture their second Cup.

“We’ll be fine,” said Zach Parise. “We’ll watch a lot of video, find out a lot of different tendencies and get prepared because it’s going to be tough.”

The Devils will have Monday off before returning to the ice for practice on Tuesday.

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