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Lemaire, Devils prepared for postseason

Wednesday, 04.14.2010 / 4:04 PM / News
By Eric Marin
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Lemaire, Devils prepared for postseason
Lemaire and Devils are ready to roll.
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Jacques Lemaire doesn’t need the first round to start to know what kind of team he’s taking into the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Devils edged the Penguins for their fourth Atlantic Division title in five years, and finished the regular season with four wins in their final five games. They captured the William Jennings Trophy for fewest team goals allowed (191), and with the addition of Ilya Kovalchuk, appear primed for a strong postseason run.

Their Cup quest begins Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., when they host the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.

“We’re a team that got better as the year went on because of all the injuries that we had,” Lemaire said Wednesday. “The acquisition, too, of Kovalchuk brought this team, to me, to another level. It gave us two really good lines to score, which most other teams have so we can compete with the other teams more than we could before.”

Martin Brodeur gives the Devils tremendous strength in net. He posted League highs with 45 wins and nine shutouts, and set new NHL marks for shutouts (104) and games played by a goaltender (1,030).

The first goaltender to reach 600 wins, Brodeur hasn’t changed much from what Lemaire remembered from his first stint in New Jersey.

“He’s the same person that loves the challenge; loves to be in big games; handles pressure well,” said Lemaire, who coached the Devils to their first title in 1995. “He’s got a good mind for the game. The only thing he’s got [different] is the age. The rest is pretty much the same.”

At first glance, the Devils’ first-round draw seems to favor the opponents. The Flyers took five of six meetings with the New Jersey this season, most recently a 5-1 win on March 28. But Lemaire feels victory will come with the right game plan.

“Any team that you hit in the playoffs, there’s always concern because you know it’s a good team,” he said. “I told the players, the eight teams are the eight best teams of our conference. Not all the best players – they’re the best teams. So every one is a concern if you don’t play well. But the type of game that teams will play, I think will depend on how we play. We want to play our game and focus on our game.”

Lemaire also doesn’t buy into the notion that the most skilled players – like Kovalchuk or Zach Parise – will single-handedly decide the series.

“I think it’s going to depend on how the team plays as a group,” he explained. “How good we’ll be on defense, how good we’ll be in the net. How good we’ll be on the power play, on the penalty kill, 5-on-5. This will determine if we win.”

NJD NOTES
Kovalchuk is back in the playoffs for just the second time in his eight NHL seasons. He said he would be a little nervous just before the start of the game, but is hoping for his first postseason win on Wednesday

“I’m nervous before every game, but tonight will be special,” Kovalchuk said. “I’ve never won a playoff game. Hopefully tonight will be  the first one.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 82 24 43 16 67
P. Elias 65 18 35 -4 53
T. Zajac 80 18 30 3 48
A. Henrique 77 25 18 3 43
M. Zidlicky 81 12 30 -3 42
M. Ryder 82 18 16 -6 34
A. Greene 82 8 24 3 32
E. Gelinas 60 7 22 -3 29
D. Zubrus 82 13 13 1 26
R. Clowe 43 7 19 -10 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 16 15 12 .921 1.97
M. Brodeur 19 14 6 .901 2.51