There has only been one game played, and the New Jersey Devils are already tired of hearing about blocked shots.
Such is life in a series in these playoffs and especially against a team like the New York Rangers.
The Devils lost Monday’s series opener 3-0, but as coach Peter DeBoer intimated afterward, the game really came down to who scored first.
The Rangers eventually did, the Devils couldn’t break through and now heading into Wednesday’s Game 2, they realize they need to be better in more ways that simply getting pucks through.
“When I look back at the game last night, I think it was as much our execution or lack of execution,” DeBoer said Tuesday afternoon after a team meeting. “We have to do a better job... It’s on us to respond the right way.”
Creating traffic around Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist will be one thing New Jersey keys on in Game 2, as players remarked they realized there were more opportunities to “make a little more havoc” near their goal in Game 1.
The other area for improvement will be on the forecheck, where the Devils dominated the Philadelphia Flyers in Round 2 and seemed to be well on their way to doing the same against the Rangers before Dan Girardi’s goal changed the complexion of the game early in the third period.
“It can be a lot better,” Devils winger Zach Parise said, describing how the coaching staff pointed out on video minutia such as not dumping the puck accurately enough. “We just have to be a little closer to each other when we’re forechecking and trying to get those pucks back.
“I think we still have to be much better, and we will be. I don’t think we played nearly as good as we’re capable of playing. So we’ll have to make sure we do that tomorrow night.”
Parise then offered a little insight into just how frustrating it can be to play the Rangers, who have been winning mostly one-goal games in narrowly getting past Ottawa and Washington.
“It’s not an easy game playing against them,” Parise said. “They make you work for everything. You have to be prepared to be hit and to create scoring chances the hard way because they don’t give you anything easy.”
As for getting around all those shot blockers, the Devils say they’ll be ready on that front, too.
“It’s a bunch of different things: Finding lanes, moving the puck quickly, being in the right places,” DeBoer said. “We’ve got a plan.
“I’m not worried about changing the game or the trap or anything else. Shot blocking’s been around for 30 years. Some teams do it better than others.”