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Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Five keys for Devils in Game 4

By Mike Mazzeo

Win a game or two, and all of a sudden, it’s a series.

But for now, the Devils are just playing for pride.

Only one team has ever won the Stanley Cup finals after trailing 3-0 in a series: the 1942 Maple Leafs.

And they weren’t facing the 15-2 Kings.

Game 4 is Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

How do the Devils finally get a win?

Here’s five things that need to happen for them to pull it off:

1. Focus on the now: The Devils can’t win the series in Game 4, but they can at least get on the board as they try to generate some semblance of momentum. And they need to bring that mantra with them into Wednesday night’s game.

2. Forget scoring first: Just score, period. The Devils were shut out in Game 3 and have just two goals in the first three games of the series. Obviously, getting an early lead would be nice -- they still haven’t had one yet in the series. But ultimately it comes down to just getting one by the seemingly impenetrable Jonathan Quick (.946 save percentage in the finals) and trying to go from there.

3. Step up: Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk have been held off the scoresheet the entire series. Parise and Kovalchuk obviously need to elevate their games. But it’s not just them, it’s every one on the roster. If the fourth line -- New Jersey’s best trio in the series -- combines for four goals on Wednesday night, no one’s going to complain.

4. Don’t get frustrated: OK, given that their power play has gone 0-for-12 this series, that won’t be easy. But instead of focusing on that, the Devils need to start making quicker passes. The Kings have pressured their point men aggressively and been successful on the penalty kill as a result. It also wouldn’t hurt to think about making some personnel changes. Devils coach Peter DeBoer played Kovalchuk on the half wall in one situation and two defensemen on the points. Heck, if nothing’s working, give the fourth liners a shot. They can’t be any worse than the alleged “skill” players.

5. Change is good: DeBoer had been pressing all the right buttons through the playoffs, but he can’t seem to get it right in the finals. While the Devils coach may not be making wholesale changes -- lines have been juggled -- Petr Sykora and Henrik Tallinder have been inserted back into the lineup in favor of Jacob Josefson and Peter Harrold. Perhaps the moves will pay off.