Skip to main content


Despite being down 3-1, Devils still confident against Senators @NHL

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -Back in 2000 when New Jersey fell behind Philadelphia 3-1 in the Eastern Conference finals, there was no doubt that someone was going to step up in the Devils' locker room and lead the way back.

That was a team loaded with leaders, and many addressed the situation, starting with coach Larry Robinson and extending down the roster from captain Scott Stevens to Ken Daneyko, Claude Lemieux and Randy McKay.

Devils goalie Martin Brodeur vividly recalls the meeting with Robinson after the Devils lost Game 4.

"He was upset about the way we played and he just said, `Trust me. Do what I am telling you and everything will fall into place,"' Brodeur recalled Thursday during a telephone conference call.

The team listened to him as well as Lemieux, who ranted: "If you don't think we can win get the (heck) out of here."

The result was inspirational. The Devils rallied to beat Philadelphia on a goal by current captain Patrik Elias, and they went on to win their second Stanley Cup, knocking off Dallas in six games in the championship round.

Seven years later, the Devils are again facing a daunting 3-1 deficit.

This time it's to the Ottawa Senators, a team that looks very capable of taking the Cup back to Canada's capital for the first time since 1927.

For the Devils, there is another difference this time around. While there are eight players still on the team from 2000 - Brodeur, Elias, Sergei Brylin, John Madden, Jay Pandolfo, Scott Gomez, Brian Rafalski and Colin White - there just doesn't seem to be that one dynamic leader to rally the team.

Elias said Thursday that the players will discuss their current dilemma on Friday before practicing for Game 5, scheduled for Saturday night at the Continental Airlines Arena.

"That's one of the things about this team," said Elias, who has been limited to one goal in nine postseason games this year. "Everyone knows what to do."

It was a thought repeated by a lot of players on Thursday, but one that didn't seem to carry a lot of force. It sounded like the Devils were satisfied with the way they have played in losing three close games, instead of being angry.

When Devils coach and general manager Lou Lamoriello perceived that the leadership of his team was being questioned, he responded, saying every player is a leader when they are on the ice.

"It has nothing to do with who verbally says anything or who jumps up and down on the table," Lamoriello said. "You have to put it on yourself, what you do and how you complement each other. Those are leaders."

Lamoriello would not discuss changes for Game 5, but said forward David Clarkson played well after reinserted into the lineup on Wednesday.

"I don't think we need to make major changes," forward Jamie Langenbrunner said. "Every game has been a one-goal game. We have to make the one play that changes the momentum and decides the outcome."

Lamoriello, who replaced Claude Julien as coach with three games left in the regular season and led New Jersey to a first-round win over Tampa Bay, said the team has to learn from what happened in the series and go on.

"You have to have the mental toughness and sort of confidence that you are just going to play one game and not worry about anything else," Lamoriello said.

The one person who has consistently been able to do that is Brodeur. He let in two soft goals in the Game 4 loss, but he said his focus is now on Saturday.

On Friday, he intends to tell the team just to play hard and not to worry about the pressure of being on the verge of elimination.

"You should just have fun and try to work hard and not think too hard about the consequences of what is going to happen," Brodeur said. "We'll deal with what will happen afterward."

View More