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Resilient Devils comfortable coming back

Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 4:23 PM / News
By Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com Staff Writer
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Resilient Devils comfortable coming back




 
NEWARK, N.J. -- So the New Jersey Devils find themselves down in a playoff series. What else is new?

For the third straight time this spring, the Devils will be forced to rally from behind in a playoff matchup in order to earn the right to advance to their first Stanley Cup Final since 2003. A 3-0 loss to the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Monday assured that scenario.

"I think we still feel pretty good about the way we played for 40 minutes and we know that game could have gone either way," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "We just didn't play well enough for a long enough period of time, and that was a big difference, but we're comfortable with the way we played.

"But [the Rangers] make you work ... it's not an easy game playing against them. You have to be prepared to be hit, to create scoring chances the hard way because nothing comes easy."

Not much has come easy for the Devils in reaching this point in the playoffs.

Against the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the team was forced to rally from 2-1 and 3-2 series deficits, winning a pair of elimination games in overtime to advance. They then spotted the Philadelphia Flyers a 1-0 series lead in the conference semifinals before storming back to win four straight and close out that matchup in five games.

"I think we just need to do more of the same things we did in Game 1 in Game 2 because I thought we played good and had our chances, " goalie Martin Brodeur said. "We hadn't played in [five days] and we were a little hesitant in plays in our system, and you won't see that [Wednesday]."

The Devils have always responded with one of their better playoff games after falling behind in a series this spring. In Game 4 against the Panthers, Brodeur made 26 saves in a 4-0 victory and, in Game 6, the Devils outshot the Panthers, 42-16, en route to a 3-2 overtime decision.

Without the services of Ilya Kovalchuk in Game 2 against the Flyers, the Devils dominated in a 4-1 victory by outhitting (32-24) and outshooting (34-20) their opponent.

The Devils talked about not staying with their game in the third period against the Rangers, when the home team did all their offensive damage. They also committed careless breakdowns in their coverage that led to prime opportunities on Brodeur.

"You're down one game and they have home ice, and we've been in this spot before and we know we can play better," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "A credit to them, they got the job done and found a way to win, but it was a closer game than the score indicated. Now it's on us to respond the right way."

The other issue the team must resolve is finding a way to get their initial shots through on Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The Rangers blocked 26 shots on Monday -- their highest total in 15 playoff games -- in support of their 2012 Hart and Vezina Trophy finalist in net. New York also limited the Devils to a playoff-low 21 shots on goal.

"We know their system, and we just need to get shots off quicker and to the net," defenseman Andy Greene said. "We need to get them there somehow. Maybe we can use the end boards since they pack it in tight, down low. One way is to bank it off the end boards and use that as advantage. Get some high tips and get guys in for second and third chances."

While blocking shots has become a major talking point in this series, DeBoer doesn't believe it is the only story.

"They are a good shot-blocking team," DeBoer said. "Every team you play has strengths in certain areas, and that's one of the Rangers' strengths. One of our strengths is the penalty kill. It's something you have to deal with, but it's not the story. When I look back at the game [Monday] night, it was as much our execution or lack of execution, and we have to do a better job with that."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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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

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