Monday, May 21, 2012
W2W4: Devils vs. Rangers
By Katie Strang
At a glance: Shut out twice this series, including a 3-0 blanking on Saturday, the Devils aim to even things up in Game 4 at home on Monday. Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has been the difference-maker in the Eastern Conference finals, letting in only three goals over the first three games. Frustration is mounting for the Devils and the bad blood has re-surfaced as the two division rivals clash at Newark’s Prudential Center.
Fightin’ words: Civil through the first three games, the series is taking on a nastier note after Rangers coach John Tortorella’s incendiary comments. Upset that his Devils counterpart Pete DeBoer called Rangers tough guy Brandon Prust a head-hunter, Tortorella spewed venom over the Devils tactics. The fiery coach, who traded barbs with DeBoer earlier this season, charged the Devils with embellishing injuries to sell calls and employing illegal screens to free up sniper Ilya Kovalchuk on the power-play. DeBoer’s response to Tortorella’s rant? “Comical.”
Prust suspended: The league agreed with DeBoer regarding Prust’s elbow to the helmet of Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov Saturday night. The gritty 28-year-old winger was slapped with a one-game suspension for the incident and will miss Game 4 as a result.
Filling the void: Without Prust, the Rangers will likely use defenseman Stu Bickel as a forward in the lineup. Injured forward Brandon Dubinsky skated again with the team Monday, but is not yet ready to return from a right foot injury sustained in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against Ottawa.
Playoff debut: Devils center Jacob Josefson, who has been sidelined since suffering a broken left wrist on April 3, will make his playoff debut for the Devils Monday. The 21-year-old Swedish center has been limited to 41 games during a injury-hampered regular season; he also sustained a broken collarbone in October that shelved him for three months. To accommodate his return to the lineup, 35-year-old veteran Petr Sykora will be scratched.
At a loss: Held without a goal this series, Devils captain Zach Parise was at a loss for words following a spirit-sapping Game 3 defeat. Wary of letting his emotions spill over, Parise spurned the media in an uncharacteristic move that highlighted his frustration. The 27-year-old winger, set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1, is expected to play on a line with Travis Zajac and Dainius Zubrus Monday in a rearrangement designed to yield more offense.