Their words had plenty of conviction, and if you’re in the New Jersey Devils’ skates this morning, why wouldn’t they? The Devils face say they’re not done yet, and a year after a team came back from a 2-0 deficit to win the Stanley Cup, there’s some logic behind their words.
Of course, the Boston Bruins had home ice advantage, when they were attempting to come from behind against the Vancouver Canucks (not to mention the motivation/distraction of the controversial Aaron Rome hit on Nathan Horton). The Devils have no such luxury - and need to take their act on the road, if they have any hope of making the 2012 final against the Los Angeles Kings interesting.
Game 3 is here tonight, with at 5 p.m. Pacific start for television purposes. It means an unusually quick turnaround considering the long breaks in the schedule up to this point. The Kings flew home immediately after Saturday’s 2-1 overtime win. The Devils waited until the next morning. Both were here by the afternoon and on Monday morning, New Jersey skipped the morning skate and had an 8 a.m. media availability at their hotel.
Coach Peter DeBoer said he would rely on the "older" guys in the dressing room - presumably goaltender Martin Brodeur, and forward Patrik Elias, who are holdovers from the championship years - to help rally the troops. In 1995, or when Brodeur was just breaking in, the Devils were the ultimate playoff road warriors, a fifth seed that needed to start every series away from the Brendan Byrne Arena. This year, L.A. has been a perfect 10-0 on the road, but has lost twice on home ice - once to the Vancouver Canucks, once to the Phoenix Coyotes. But those defeats happened in Game 4, not enough to put any real pressure on the Kings. For the Devils to plant any small seed of doubt in the Kings’ minds, they need a victory tonight. Otherwise, the Kings can start planning the parade.
"This isn't an easy task," said DeBoer. "They're a very good team. They've shown that. But we're a confident group. There will be no laying down by our group.
"We think we have to win one game in order to put a different spin on this series."
According to Brodeur, the Devils have demonstrated a remarkable resilience this playoff year, against long odds. They were down 2-1 in the series to the New York Rangers, but gradually took over territorially and won the final three games.
"The same thing with Florida a little bit," said Brodeur. "We thought we played well, but couldn't get a hold of the series till late in the series. We have to keep the same attitude.
"We're in the Stanley Cup Finals. One way or the other, it's going to be over soon. Might as well go all out and see what that is going to bring us."
Devils captain Zach Parise knows Kings’ goaltender Jonathan Quick from their days together in the U.S. national program. They were Olympic teammates and had a memorable goal-mouth skirmish in Game 1. Quick has only surrendered two goals in the series, and both were a little flukey. There are just no clean goals going in on him at the moment.
"He's playing really well, there's no secret there," said Parise, "but I think as a team, they play really well defensively. They don’t give you a lot of opportunities, although the opportunities have been there, we just haven't capitalized on them.
"Not to take anything away from Quick because he's playing really well and he's making the saves, but I still think we can bring it up another level."