by David Pavlak on 04/24/12 at 01:14 PM ET
The sixth seeded New Jersey Devils will be staring elimination in the face tonight when they take on the Florida Panthers in game six of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
The series has had a mix of ups-and-downs for both teams, with games where the offense was potent and others where the defensive won the battles.
With the Devils down 3-2 in the series, they will have to win the last two games in order to advance further in hopes of bringing the Stanley Cup back to New Jersey for the first time since 2002-03.
“We’re not done yet,” Ilya Kovalchuk said to Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. “It’s always a good chance when you go and play face to face with any team. We can win two in a row. We did it a lot of times this year. But they’re a good team. They work hard. They do what they’re best at. Like I said a lot of times, they’re there for a reason, but if we want to win the series, we’ve got to take care of ourselves. It doesn’t really matter how they’re going to play. We have to take care of our game and be on the same page like (head coach Pete DeBoer) wants us to be and I think our forecheck will be the key.”
Devils captain Zach Parise is trying to take the stress out of having to win the last two games.
“I guess it’s kind of pointless and adds a little more stress to think about two at a time,” Parise said. “We can’t win them both tomorrow. We have to have a great game tomorrow. And we know Florida is going to be ready. I think the last game was their best game and we weren’t on top of ours. So, we have to be a lot better in areas that we were better at earlier in the series.”
Kovalchuk isn’t surprised that this hasn’t been a cake-walk for the Devils though.
“If you look around the league, there’s a lot of surprises,” Kovalchuk said. “We know they’re a good team. They’re there for a reason and to win the series, we just have to play our A Game two games. We’ll take one game at a time and see what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
With his past experience in the playoffs, Brodeur knows that one of the most difficult task is finishing off a team. Due to this, Brodeur believes that the Devils have the advantage.
“I’m sure they’re flying high, but one of the toughest things is to move on in a series, to close out a series,” Brodeur said. “We’ve got to try to put that doubt in that they’re going to have a hard time doing it and we’re going to start right from the first shift tomorrow saying we’re not going to quit on them and that it’s going to be for them to really come out with an unbelievable game if they want to beat us. That’s the attitude to have in this position.”
One of the main sentiment’s expressed by the team was the fact that they need to shoot more. Putting more shots on Jose Theodore or Scott Clemmensen has shown to be effective in winning the games.
“Just after watching some of the clips from last game, it really comes down to not doing the things well enough that got us here and what won us those two games,” Parise said. “We got knocked off the pucks way too much and we didn’t forecheck properly and so we’re not creating any turnovers. We’re not creating those extra chances and you look at it and we get shut out. It’s not a coincidence. When we don’t do things properly, we don’t do things the right way, we waste energy and we make the game way too tough for ourselves.”
“I think all of us we’ve got to shoot the puck more and we’ve got to create more traffic,” Kovalchuk said. “We don’t want Theodore to feel comfortable in net and it seems like we get a lot of traffic in front of him, he gives a lot of rebounds. We just have to take advantage of it.”
Devils Head Coach Pete DeBoer’s confidence in his team hasn’t changed throughout this series.
“When our backs have been up against the wall this year at different points or the pressure has been on we’ve responded in positive fashion every time. That’s’ what I expect,” DeBoer said. “Pressure comes with the playoffs. I don’t think you have to say anything about it. I think the guys understand the situation they’re in. They can count and we’ve got to win.”
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