- Katie Strang, ESPN.com
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NEWARK, N.J. -- With home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup final, the Devils have the luxury of the last change in the first pair of games, as well as Games 5 and 7, if necessary.
Regardless of the Devils' 2-1 overtime loss in Game 1 on Wednesday, coach Pete DeBoer said he's not planning on getting too caught up in trying to play a match-up game with Los Angeles.
"The matchup game isn't something that I'm interested in or worried about," DeBoer said after his team's practice Friday. "For me, it isn't relevant."
DeBoer was asked specifically if he'd like to get star sniper Ilya Kovalchuk's line away from the Kings' venerable shutdown pair of Rob Scuderi and Drew Doughty, but that didn't seem to be a major concern heading into Game 2 Saturday.
Scuderi and Doughty split time against both the Parise and Kovalchuk lines throughout the course of the game, and held both of New Jersey's top offensive threats off the scoresheet. Parise managed three shots on goal, Kovalchuk only one.
"We played [Dan] Girardi and [Ryan] McDonagh against the Rangers, same thing. If they're going to match those guys up, you know, in order to get him away, we're going to have to get away from a four-line game, which has been our strength," DeBoer said. "Two, if they're matching up against Kovalchuk, then they're not matching up against Parise or other guys."
Both Kovalchuk and Parise had five points each in the Devils' conference final series against the Rangers while facing McDonagh and Girardi -- a tandem DeBoer considers one of the elite in the East.
"As shut-down defensemen, I would put those two in the class of Doughty and his partner, yes. Doughty, in an individual class, is in a class by himself. I don't think there's any doubt about that," DeBoer said. "As a shut-down pair, you know, those two, you ask around the league in the Eastern Conference, those two are as tough a shut-down pair as there are on this side."
DeBoer has confidence both Kovalchuk and Parise can excel against this pair, too. So, he won't scrap the team's biggest asset -- its offensive depth and ability to roll four lines -- just to create a mismatch on the ice with the last change.
"I'm not discounting it. We're not changing randomly, not worried about who is on the ice on the other team. We're just not going to let that dictate how we play," DeBoer said.
"Last change, it does have some importance and some relevance, but the big thing is the crowd, the environment, sleeping in your own bed. All those things. I know L.A.'s record kind of I guess minimizes the sounds of that with what they've done on the road," DeBoer said. "But it's important to us."
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