Better not good enough for Devils
Chris Stevenson, QMI Agency
|New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer answers questions during a news conference in El Segundo, California June 3, 2012. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)
LOS ANGELES - New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer thought his team was 50% better from Game 1 to Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final.
Half as good again wasn’t good enough as the Devils lost to the Los Angeles Kings for the second-straight game 2-1 in overtime.
The fact of the matter is the Devils are going to have to be even better than that to avoid going down 3-0 to the Kings Monday night in Game 3 as the scene shifts to the Staples Center.
The power play wouldn’t be a bad place to start.
The Devils are 0-for-6 in the first two games of the final.
“Special teams has been a huge difference for us. The whole playoffs long we were good on the power play and if we weren’t scoring at least we got momentum. We got good chances. That gave us good momentum for the rest of the game, but those two games we were just awful,” said Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk.
The power play was a topic of discussion, of course, in the Devils camp Sunday.
“I think we have to be simple. At this time of the year, power play’s got to be one pass and shot and screen and those shots, those kind of goals are going to go in. We tried the fancy stuff - one touch, sauce in the middle - it’s not going to work. We talked about it today and I’m pretty sure we’ll be different (Monday),” said Kovalchuk. “I think we can be better in that particular situation and we will be.”
The fact of the matter is the Devils have been able to get by despite winning the special teams war in only one series so far. They were outscored 9-5 on the power play by the Florida Panthers in the opening round, outscored the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in the second round and were bettered by the New York Rangers 4-3 in the Eastern Conference final. It’s a wash so far in the final with both teams still looking for its first power-play goal.
But when you’ve lost the first two games in overtime and you’ve had a half-dozen power plays, of course that is going to be a talking point.
There’s also the fact the Devils' goals in the final have come from fourth-liner Ryan Carter and defensive defenceman Anton Volchenkov.
The top guns have been invisible.
To that end, DeBoer shook up his lines in the third period Saturday night, putting Kovalchuk with Zach Parise and Travis Zajac. Dainius Zubrus wound up with Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias. Alexei Ponikarovsky lined up beside Jacob Josefson and David Clarkson while the fourth line - which has been the Devils best so far in this series - remained intact (Carter with Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier).