Tonight is game 5 between the New Jersey Devils and the top seeded New York Rangers. The Rangers who looked a bit listless (although I wouldn’t ask Tortorella that) will attempt to regain home ice advantage as the series is now a best of three games. The Rangers have obviously become frustrated by the Devils “trap”. There is less room to move, less room to skate, and pass to create offence. And by the way, Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur looks like he’s 30 again.
Peter DeBoer seems to be pretty pleased with how his team has played and responded, and likes where they are at this point. His team seemed to dictate the pace Monday night from start to finish, and he’s looking for the same quick start again tonight. Without the shenannigans.
Fortunately for you here are some pre-game interviews courtesy of the NHL Media. Read, enjoy, and get some insight. Hopefully this will “trap” your attention.
Questions for Coach DeBoer.
Q. Patrik Elias, what have you learned about him this year and what is important about him?
COACH DeBOER: You know what, his hockey IQ is so high because he’s been around, he’s been in every situation imaginable. There isn’t any situation that has come up this year that he hasn’t been through before. He’s got a coaching mind in the dressing room for us.
In all honesty, it was critical that he bought in to what we were selling as a coaching staff early so that it would translate to the room. Probably him more than anybody because he had played here for so long under what was obviously a different style. It was critical that we got him and Marty to buy in.
He was all in from day one.
Q. I imagine no lineup changes.
COACH DeBOER: Same lineup.
Q. I don’t know how much you break it down, do you have an idea of how many scoring chances you’ve allowed the first periods of these games so far?
COACH DeBOER: We break down scoring chances by period and game. I usually concentrate more on the final number, which has been very good through the series for me.
So I haven’t looked closely enough at the individual period. I imagine it’s pretty good. Our first periods have been great.
Q. Can you just talk a little bit about Peter Harrold, this is a guy that wasn’t on the team for most of the year, now playing important moments.
COACH DeBOER: Yeah, I think when you look at the strength of our defense, their strength is to keep it simple, compete in the tough areas of the rink. We don’t have a lot of what he brings to the table. I think that’s what was attractive about him coming up when he did come up during the year. I think he only came up once.
But you saw that. I saw enough, we saw enough as a group, you know, that we felt he could add something. And he has. In a series like this where point play, especially at the offensive blueline has been critical, he’s given us something there that we didn’t have.
Q. When Lou Lamoriello brought you here last summer, what was it about this team that made you think it could go this far?
COACH DeBOER: Well, Lou. He does nothing but win. He knows how to win. He knows the formula. I think that’s where the bar is with him, and it has been here since the day he got here.
Q. Could you talk about your philosophy of trying to keep fresh in the playoffs? You took the day off while the Rangers had a practice. How do you kind of gauge that?
COACH DeBOER: There’s no formula. It’s just feel. I have great help in my assistant coaches, Adam Oates, Larry Robinson, Chris Terreri, Dave Barr. They all played a long time. I think they have a real good feel for our room, what’s needed. I can rely on them a lot.
You know, we have an older team, especially at some key positions. We’ve also got some young guys playing some key minutes, too. We’ve got to manage that.
Q. Can you talk about what you’ve gotten out of Steven Gionta and how important that is?
COACH DeBOER: Same thing at Peter Harrold. Really, he didn’t play a game for us during the regular season. The coaching staff we had before had him up for some guys, Larry and Chris kept telling me that this guy was reliable, he could help us, play at different positions.
When we were looking at the names when Josefson went down late in the season, he was the guy, top of the list that fit the criteria for what we needed.
We needed somebody to come and keep our fourth line identity, and he’s done that.
Q. How essential was it to you to show trust right away in that fourth line and how important is it to have a fourth line that you can use for the way you guys play?
COACH DeBOER: Critical. You know, I can’t overstate the importance of it. It’s no secret that our season turned from the All-Star break on when Lou added some depth up front and we got to the point where we could roll four lines. We went out and got Ponikarovsky, we brought Bernier up and Zajac got healthy. Our season turned at that point. You can’t overstate the importance.
Q. Adam Henrique is pretty calm and cool for a rookie. Have you seen him nervous at any point in the season?
COACH DeBOER: Not once. He’s unflappable is the word I’ve used since day one. Pretty special kid. Might have been in a card game once with Kovy (laughter).
Q. Pete, is there a certain point in Game 4, or a game, where as a coach you feel as though you’re crushing the will of the opposition?
COACH DeBOER: I don’t know about crushing the will. You definitely feel that momentum. We thrive off that momentum. You’re also very aware that the teams that are left in the playoffs here are very resilient, including the one we’re playing, and capable of turning that momentum very quickly.
You know, you look at their last series against Washington. I think Game 5 or 6, with an empty net they score, then score in the first shift in the overtime. You’re dealing with teams that are very resilient. We want to push the pace and dictate and play our game. When we are, that’s when we’re at our best. We’re also very aware these teams can turn that on you very quickly.
Q. Last season was a tale of two halves. In training camp, were you wondering which half you were going to get?
COACH DeBOER: You know what, I was pretty confident that after meeting with some of the guys in the summer, getting through camp, that we had a real captive audience, a group where the previous year did not sit well with them. First time this franchise missed the playoffs in 15 years. They took that personally. I got that feeling very early that they were willing to listen and do whatever they had to in order to make sure that never happened again.
It was a good feel right from the start. I wasn’t afraid of a repeat of the first half of the previous year.
Q. What’s the worst thing you heard from the people behind you, the crowd behind you?
COACH DeBOER: At the Garden?
Q. That you can say on the record.
COACH DeBOER: No language there you can say on the record (laughter).
You know what, it’s a great building, a great environment. That’s what playoff hockey is all about, the fans screaming at you, the passion in the building. You try to tune that stuff out. I can’t give you a specific insult, but there’s lots of them.
Q. From game to game in a series, teams make adjustments. Is there anything you are anticipating from them this game?
DAVID CLARKSON: Obviously you want to come out harder every day, every game that goes on. We’re going to come out and play our hockey. We’re not worried about what they do or anyone else. We’re going to come out and play the way we played all playoffs. Let whatever happens happen.
We’re going to come out and play hard.
Q. First period has been key for you guys. You have dominated the first period in every game. Is that the goal again?
DAVID CLARKSON: I think you always want to come out strong. We’ve got to come right away, right when the puck drops.
Going into that building, it’s a tough building to go into, some of the guys they have. We have to come out right from the drop of the puck and get ready to go.
Q. You have pretty much won the first period in these games. Do you have to come out harder and stronger in this one knowing what’s at stake?
DAINIUS ZUBRUS: Well, I think they going to come out real hard. Now it’s best out of three, they play in their building. First two games the crowd was up. I’m sure it’s going to be the same thing and they going to feed off that.
Maybe in a way we have to make sure we’re ready for that. But on top of it, we have to stop that. That’s how you win games, you match it if anything early, but you still have to top it and win the game and get some goals.
I think we’ve done a pretty good job so far in a series where we’re able to get maybe some of the momentum early in the game. Like you said, hasn’t always turned into goals, but when it does, makes any team that scores early feel good.
Q. No secret they capitalized off the power play. Last game they only had one and did not score.
DAINIUS ZUBRUS: Any undisciplined penalty, any penalty for that matter, can really cost a momentum swing. I’m not saying it cost the game, but it does sometimes turn out that way. Like I said, being undisciplined is not really an option right now.
I’m sure there will be penalties. There’s penalties that are taken that we’ll try to kill off. I think we’ve done pretty good job so far of not getting into all the scrums and stuff that happens afterwards.
We’ve done pretty good job so far I think in the playoffs. I don’t have much doubt we’re going to do the same.
Q. First period has been so key for you guys. Hasn’t dictated who has won, but do you expect them to come out even more of a push in the first period?
PATRIK ELIAS: Probably. Obviously they’re going to be home, so they’re going to get their energy going right from the get-go.
For us it’s just a matter of playing our game. Our pace, our energy, we’ll be okay.
Q. The emotions of your team, it’s been such a key throughout the playoffs. How have you been able to keep them intact throughout?
PATRIK ELIAS: I think we have a bigger picture in mind obviously. We all get frustrated, no question about it. Like I said, our main goal is to win a hockey games, to win a series. That’s what we focus on.
Sometimes we have to take punches, take whatever they throw at you to be successful.
Now the New York side of things with John Tortorella starting things off:
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Tortorella.
Q. It goes without saying that Prust goes right back in tonight.
COACH TORTORELLA: Yes.
Q. Do you feel like offensively your forwards need some kind of, if
you were to shake them up lineup-wise, they could use something like that
to get a jolt?
COACH TORTORELLA: Are you asking me about the lineup?
Q. Not specific.
COACH TORTORELLA: We need something to happen for ourselves. We’ll
try different things. I’ll give you that.
But it’s still a matter of just getting it done. At least that’s the
way I feel about it. So we’ll see where it goes.
Q. Would it be fair to say that your top offensive players have
played their best in the biggest games? Does that give you more confidence
that people will be able to come through?
COACH TORTORELLA: I have total confidence in our players. Again,
this isn’t a new experience for us as we go into tonight’s game. So I have
I know I used that word ‘pray’ yesterday. It was a joke. There are
a lot more important things to pray about than a win or a goal. So can I
clear that up, please (laughter)?
To answer your question, I have total confidence in our guys. Again,
it’s a great opportunity for us and I’m looking forward to it.
Q. Early in the playoffs someone asked you about the first 10
minutes of the game. You said, No more important than the last 50. Your
guys talk a lot about a good start. How much focus do you put on that?
COACH TORTORELLA: We do need a good one. Again, when we start
talking about a must game or a must start, I don’t like going there. What
happens if something doesn’t happen right for you, we just throw the last
50 minutes away?
There’s no question Jersey right on through the playoffs, not just
our series, they have blitzed teams and gained momentum. Momentum is a big
part of playoff hockey. There’s no question we like to get that on our
side right away.
Q. Do you need to change the way you try to motivate the guys at
this point or they don’t need any?
COACH TORTORELLA: No. I read a couple articles about sending a
message to a player.
This time of year, with Gaby or Brian Boyle, it’s not sending
messages, it’s not going in there and giving your big speech. I have too
much respect for the hockey club. They don’t need that. This team
wouldn’t be where it’s at if they didn’t know how to handle these
This time of year, a coach needs to be with them, not at them. So,
again, it goes right back to the last question. I have total confidence in
how our team will present themselves tonight and try to find a way to win
one hockey game.
Q. How is Del Zotto today?
COACH TORTORELLA: That’s something personal. I’m not going to
discuss that with you. Michael Del Zotto will be fine tonight, though.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
Questions for Brian Boyle.
Q. This is the third straight series you play Game 5 tied 2-2. Any
benefits of having gone through this a couple times already?
BRIAN BOYLE: I don’t know. I think maybe. But each series presents
a new challenge, a different team. We’ve been in different situations all
year. I think we’ve been a resilient team.
We have confidence as a group.
Q. Does home ice become a bigger factor as the series progresses?
BRIAN BOYLE: Yeah, it can be to our advantage, if we take advantage
Q. Coming off a tough loss, is there a comfort coming home knowing
you’re going to have a lot of people behind you?
BRIAN BOYLE: Yeah. We need to feed off that and use it to our
advantage with our start, like I talked about before. I think that’s going
to be important.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
Questions for Carl Hagelin.
Q. (No microphone.)
CARL HAGELIN: It’s time for us to have a good start, get some
forecheck going, gain some moment and get some confidence, realizing we can
play in their zone, take some pressure off our D. It’s not easy for our D
to spend 15 out of the first 20 minutes in their own end. When that
happens, it’s going to be a long night, they’ll get tired.
For us, come off strong, get some shots, containing the puck down
Q. When it’s tough to get goals in this series, is there a fine line
between pushing and forcing stuff?
CARL HAGELIN: Yeah, you don’t want to force too much, try too much
stuff around the blueline, because you know they’re going to knock down
pucks in the air, cost you turnovers. They’re a quick team. Once it
happens, they’re all gone.
So, like you said, it’s important not to force anything. I think
it’s important for us just to hold onto the puck, maybe be a bit more
Q. Is there confidence in this team knowing you’ve been in this
CARL HAGELIN: Yeah, I would say so. We have a lot of strong
character in this room, a lot of guys that are willing to pay the price to
win games like this.
Whatever happened in the first four games doesn’t matter right now,
it’s a best-out-of-three series. We’re going to start all over and
hopefully have a strong 60-minute game.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
Thanks for reading. We welcome your comments and opinions.
Follow the Rat Pack on Twitter: me @TheRatTrick , David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Josh Luecht@joshluecht, Patrick McLaughlin @PatrickRattrick3, Scott Mullin @GreatScottsman, David Rodriguez @davidbub_2, Paige Lewis @RatTrickLewiz Gabby Kiger @gabbykiger, Adam Reid@AdamReid Chrissy Parente @chrissaay44, and Justen Rosenberg @justenrosenberg. Also, please join our Facebook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.