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Lemaire, Devils prepared for postseason

Wednesday, 04.14.2010 / 4:04 PM ET / 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 - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Palmieri 82 30 27 3 57
A. Henrique 80 30 20 10 50
T. Zajac 74 14 28 3 42
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
D. Severson 72 1 20 -8 21
R. Boucher 39 8 11 -13 19
D. Schlemko 67 6 13 -22 19
J. Moore 73 4 15 -12 19
A. Larsson 82 3 15 15 18
J. Blandisi 41 5 12 -14 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 27 25 6 .924 2.15
K. Kinkaid 9 9 1 .904 2.81
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