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NJD Notebook 4.17: Devils ready for Game 2

by Staff Writer / New Jersey Devils – Devils' head coach Brent Sutter spoke to the media Friday morning. The Devils were set to host the Carolina Hurricanes for Game 2 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal on Friday night.

Sutter on expectations for Game 2:
We certainly have to expect Carolina to play a very good game here tonight. We have to make sure that we’re ourselves, and that we keep our foot on the pedal and use our last game as a stepping stone to continue to improve and get better.

On Mike Mottau developing into an NHL regular:
Motts was brought in here two years ago, and when we brought him to camp a year ago this past training camp he got a chance to play in an exhibition game. For the game he played in, he might have been the best player on the ice that night.  We put him in again two nights later, and again he played extremely well. It’s just been snowballing since then for him. He was able to crack our lineup and here’s a guy that’s 29, 30 years of age at the time, but I felt very comfortable, as did the coaches and (Devils President/CEO/GM) Lou (Lamoriello), with moving forward with him. Look where he is today. Last year, with him, Johnny (Oduya) and Greenie (Andy Greene), we went with some guys that were inexperienced defensemen, and it’s paying off for us. That’s what happens when you stick with young guys, and put them in situations to respond. Some nights it’s going to be tough, but you stay with them and eventually they’re guys that you can really count on. He’s certainly been one of them.

On matching defensemen against Eric Staal's line:
I don’t know if we have a preference. Sometimes things unfold the way they do. A lot depends on penalties in games, power plays, and so forth. Managing ice time, too. I feel very comfortable with whatever line we play against other teams’ top lines. I feel very comfortable with our defense pairings. Some teams might say they have a top-four defense or top-two guys, but we like to think with our team that we have a solid unit of six guys. Whitey (Colin White) brings something a little different than the other guys; he’s a little bit different type of player. So does Bryce Salvador. Paul (Martin) and Johnny are different types of players again. We’re in a situation where you get to this time of year, and that’s why you do what you do throughout the year. That’s why, for me, I coach to be a four-line team and a three-pair defense. In game situations, you’re fortunate at home to have last line change, but on the road you’re not. Guys have to be able to respond against whoever they play against. As far as our four lines are concerned, it doesn’t really bother me. I have a lot of confidence in whatever line to go out there and play against whomever. On the back end, it’s basically the same, too. In a game you might get it to where certain guys are playing well against certain guys and you leave them alone. But it’s not written in stone.

On avoiding penalties:
We’re an experienced team. I’d like to think that (the players) know the difference between a good penalty and a bad penalty. It’s part of being disciplined. We don’t want to be a team that’s sitting in the penalty box. We can’t take bad penalties. Do I talk about certain kinds of penalties that we can’t take? No. But they do know the difference between what’s disciplined and what isn’t.

On Mike Rupp's return after he was a healty scratch to end the regular season:
He hadn’t played in a bit and he’s usually responded well after not playing. I hope I don’t have to use that as an example all the time, but it seemed to work with him again. And yet, for the most part, Ruppie has been a pretty effective player for us. He’s got the size; he’s a big man. When he’s on his game and he’s doing the things that we want him to do – not necessarily the things he wants to do, but the things we want him to do – that’s when he’s most effective.

On communicating with son, (Carolina forward) Brandon:
Very minimal. It’s a situation where I don’t want to put him in an awkward situation, and he doesn’t want to do the same to me. He’s still my son, but Brandon and I, even through the winter, he doesn’t talk, and I don’t ask, about his team and the things they do because it’s none of my business. We’re very professional about how we do things, and he’s the same way with me. We’ve learned that through the relationship we had as coach and player when I coached him (in Red Deer of the WHL). He was treated no differently than anyone else. Now he’s a player for the Carolina Hurricanes, and I’m the coach of the New Jersey Devils and we’re competing against each other at a high level.

Does it help that he’s not playing?
I guess as a dad, I wish he was playing. It’s a situation where this is pro sports, and decisions are made daily and he’s playing for a good organization and I know he thinks very highly of the Hurricanes. Is it easy for me to have him not playing? No, I wish he was playing. As a coach on the opposing team, he’s a pretty good player that’s not playing, so we’re OK with that too.

PATRIK ELIAS thought Wednesday's win in Game 1 was a key step in the Devils' playoff quest.

"More importantly, it was the way we played," Elias said. "We did a lot of good things, 5-on-5 and on the power plays, even though we didn’t score. We created opportunities and the PK did a really good job. We did a lot of good things."

The Devils were led in the series opener by tallies from their top three goal-scorers: Zach Parise, Elias and captain Jamie Langenbrunner. Elias was asked how important it was for New Jersey's top threats to get on the scoresheet early in the series.

“That’s always kind of tricky, because sometimes the puck just won’t go in for you and sometimes it does," he said. "With the way we played (Wednesday) it doesn’t matter who scores, but it’s good to start out that way, no question."

Elias and the Devils were ready Friday for a more prepared Carolina team.

“I think they’re going to adjust a couple things and come at us harder," Elias said. "The main focus on our side will be to sustain the way we played and worry about ourselves."

One win, said Elias, is no reason to feel overconfident in Game 2.

"Not at all," he said. "We’ve done nothing except play well in the first game. You have look at it like we could be playing six games with these guys, so we just need another good game (Friday)."

ZACH PARISE led the Devils with 45 goals in 2008-09 courtesy of a team-high 364 shots on goal. In practices he can often be seen shooting pucks at sharp angles to work on picking corners.

His goal in Game 1 found a small opening through Carolina's Cam Ward from the right side of the cage.

"I have places I like to shoot," Parise said. "Sometimes even if they’re not there, I try to force it there. That’s what practice is for. We have two really good goalies who challenge you. You can make sure you’re hitting your spots and really bearing down to find those openings."

With five shots Wednesday, Parise tied Jamie Langenbrunner and Patrik Elias for the club lead. The fourth-year left wing isn't afraid to put the puck on net from anywhere on the ice.

"I just try to throw it on goal, and try and catch a goalie off-guard; get him when he’s not ready," Parise said. "You have to throw them on net to score."

Parise's line with Langenbrunner and Travis Zajac got off to a hot start in Game 1, combining for two goals and three assists.

"For confidence it feels great, but what’s most satisfying right now for us as a line, the way we controlled the puck and got our forecheck going and made plays," Parise said. "Whether it went in for us or not, it was good for us to get it going  and start feeling good about ourselves for the playoffs."  

• BRIAN ROLSTON helps man the point on the second power-play unit, and said despite going scoreless in four tries, the Devils are doing good things with the man advantage.

"The power play was a huge part of the first game, for the simple fact that we got a few of them early," Rolston said. "We had good tempo and they got a couple penalties. Not that our power play was spectacular early, but we still had some good opportunities and that give you momentum, no question. We kind of just carried that momentum and continued on."

New Jersey's team discipline limited the Hurricanes to only two power plays in the series opener.

"We were skating (Wednesday), we weren’t using our sticks," Rolston said. "Everybody had their feet moving and that’s important. We know we have to be disciplined against a team like that, that has a good power play. Power play and penalty kill are big momentum changers in games, and possibly even a series. We understand that."

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