Five ways the Devils can be better
CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency
|Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick removes his mask during a team practice before Game 2 of the NHL Stanley Cup final. (REUTERS)
For the third consecutive series, the New Jersey Devils lost the opening game -- this time at home to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup final.
In the previous two situations, the Devils rebounded to win Game 2 -- in the second round against the Philadelphia Flyers and in the Eastern Conference final against the New York Rangers.
"We know we've been there before," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think also after looking at the tape, we think we know what we have to fix. I think there's a comfort level there that we can get it done."
"We've been down 1-0, we've been down 2-1, we've been down 3-2. We've done it all (through the playoffs)," Devils captain Zach Parise said. "Regardless, had we won last game or we didn't win, I think (it helps) just knowing that wasn't nearly our best effort, we can be a lot better. I think more so that's our mentality right now: We're a much better team than we showed in Game 1 and we'll be better, as I'm sure they will, too. We just know we are better than we were."
Here are five keys to the Devils winning Game 2 and tying the series at 1-1:
1. The Devils introducing themselves to Jonathan Quick: The Devils had only 18 shots Wednesday on the Kings goaltender in Game 1, their second-lowest output of these playoffs. Their only goal was on a crazy bounce off Kings defenceman Slava Voynov. "Eighteen is not enough, especially against that goalie," Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk said. "We've got to find a way to play more in their zone and put more pucks on net."
2. Turn up the tempo: Game 1 wasn't a masterpiece for either team. "It was not a very good game. Sloppy," Kings defenceman Willie Mitchell said. "After the game, collectively as a group, there were a lot of guys who said, 'how'd you feel?' and there were not a lot of yeses as far as feeling good. I expect a much faster pace, much more physical game from us and from them because I don't think they played nearly their best, either."
3. Keep it simple, stupid: The ice conditions were not good in the Prudential Center for Game 1 and it was hot, too. The prospects for better ice aren't great given Radiohead staged a couple of concerts on the nights between games. Trying fancy puckhandling -- unless you're Anze Kopitar, apparently -- is not recommended. "Ice conditions weren't great and we had to deal with that. Hopefully they're better," Mitchell said. "It's tough with a couple of concerts in here, so we'll see."
4. Get the feet moving: There were only three minor penalties -- two to the Kings -- handed out in Game 1. That was either an indication of the players being disciplined or there simply wasn't enough work being done to draw penalties. I choose the latter. The Devils need to work harder at putting the Kings in vulnerable spots and draw some penalties because the Devils have had one of the better power plays in the post-season (8-for-34 at home).
5. Keep the hits coming: The teams combined for a whopping 79 hits in Game 1 with the Devils leading the way with 44. Only three Devils -- Kovalchuk, Jacob Josefson and Mark Fayne -- weren't credited with a hit in Game 1. Forward Dainius Zubrus led the way with eight. If the Devils keep up that kind of pounding, it will play off for them at some point, shouldn't it?