A match-up between rivals always brings out the best in both clubs.
But the Devils' five-game ouster of Philadelphia last postseason coupled with the Flyers' winless start figures to make Tuesday's home opener more heated than most.
"I think that's a given," head coach Pete DeBoer said Monday. "Playing the team that knocked you out in the playoffs and being in an 0-2 hole to start the season, we know exactly what we're getting."
DeBoer's group is ready to play its first home game since June 9, when they beat the Kings, 2-1, in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final to force the series back to Los Angeles.
|David Clarkson looking forward to comforts of home. |
"It's an exciting night," DeBoer said. "We've waited a long time for it. Our fans were so great last year during the playoff run that it'll be great to be in that atmosphere again."
For the fans especially, it's been a long time coming. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m.
"It's going to be fun," David Clarkson said. "These fans were outstanding to us as a team throughout the playoffs. I think they don't realize how much it helps when you have support from your home crowd. The fans were big and we're hoping that they're all back in their seats (Tuesday) night cheering us on again."
The Devils picked up a win in Saturday's season opener, knocking off the Islanders, 2-1, at Nassau Coliseum. Patrik Elias set up Clarkson's goal that broke a 1-1 tie at 8:17 of the third.
"We're still going to make mistakes, but (I liked) the way we covered up for each other," Elias said. "Just a good team effort. I think we'll get better as the games go on, obviously, but a lot of positives getting the system in place quickly."
DeBoer took plenty of positives from opening night, but knows there's still work to do.
"This is going to be a long road of daily improvement," he said. "The nice thing for me was the foundation of our team play was pretty solid and we can build off that. Last year, you're starting basically from scratch. It's nice that that foundation's there and it'll allow us to get into some of the details of the game and some certain areas a little quicker."
Martin Brodeur, who made 18 saves in the victory, is looking forward to finally being back in a rocking Prudential Center.
"We had never really given them much to celebrate in this building before, and when we gave it to them, they really took it and embraced it," Brodeur said. Again, we're looking to continue on the same wave of what we accomplished last season. Definitely we're going to need (the fans) to come back and support us as well as they can. What a great match-up to start the year at home, that's for sure."
• Travis Zajac and Jacob Josefson rested on Monday and did not take part in practice. Both are expected to play Tuesday.
• While the Flyers' schedule has them playing three times in the first four days of the season, the Devils have enjoyed a bit more breathing room. They had two days off after the season opener and will have another two before hosting Washington on Friday. They then visit Montreal on Sunday.
"We were pretty fortunate in the way the schedule laid out for us," DeBoer said. "You look at some of the other schedules some of the teams have, you pay the bill for that later, though. There's catch-up along the way and we're going to get jammed at some point or another because of the luxury of a little slower start. From a coaching perspective, it's been nice."