newjerseydevils.com – Down three games to one to the Ottawa Senators, Devils’ head coach and general manager Lou Lamoriello would say that each of his players should resist the urge to try and be the hero.
It’s clear that, for Lamoriello, not even a potential elimination game should pressure anyone on New Jersey’s experience-laden roster into personally carrying the burden of a must-win game.
“This is a team game and what we have to do is, simplistically, get the best out of each one of our players, and allow the end result to take care of itself,” Lamoriello said yesterday. “People can’t feel as though they have to shoulder more responsibilities.
"I feel very strongly that if each one of our players just shoulders what they’re capable of giving, and every player is capable of giving different things, then the end result will take care of itself.”
The ideal end result would be a win at the Meadowlands in Saturday’s game five (8 p.m., FSN NY, 92.3 Free FM) to force a game six in Ottawa on Monday.
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Though the Devils dropped back-to-back games to the Sens in Ottawa, scoring only twice, Lamoriello’s approach to this next game seems to hinge on ignoring those recent trends and focusing instead on New Jersey’s opportunity to climb out of its two-game deficit.
He noted that the losses in games three and four were mentally draining for his group, if only because of how close they were. The Devils were within a goal of Ottawa in the last two minutes of each contest, and, arguably, a lucky bounce away from evening up the score in either game.
“The previous games have no effect,” Lamoriello said. “The games after that have no effect. You have to have the mental toughness and the confidence that you’re just going to play one game and not worry about anything else. Put everything out of your mind, because that’s all that counts is that game you’re playing.”
Some have tried to draw a parallel between this season’s 3-1 deficit, and the one the Devils faced in 2000, when they came back to win three straight and oust Philadelphia in seven games.
There are eight Devils’ holdovers from that historic siege in the Conference Final, but Lamoriello wouldn’t look backward. Especially not when there’s a pivotal game to look forward to.
“The past is in the past,” he said. “We have to get prepared to play Saturday night.”