- Scott Burnside, NHL
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MARINA DEL REY, Calif. -- It’s 8 a.m. PT and the Devils are meeting with the media covering the Stanley Cup finals. Welcome to the West Coast, boys. Now pass the coffee.
Defenseman Bryce Salvador chuckled when he was asked about the last time he’d had a media briefing at such an early hour.
“Never,” he said.
Coastal travel is never easy when you’re playing professional sports, let alone when you’re down 2-0 in a final series like the Devils are against the Los Angeles Kings. Yet for a team looking to change its mojo -- not to mention find a way to generate offense after dropping twin 2-1 games in overtime in Newark to open the series -- a little wrinkle in the routine might prove a welcome tonic.
With Game 3 set for 5 p.m. PT Monday, the Devils did not skate as they normally would in the morning, hence the early-morning press gathering.
They had not been on a flight of any kind since the end of the first round more than a month ago and a number of players talked about relishing the closeness of their first far-west trip since the middle of January, when they were in Western Canada.
“We’re all excited. We believe in that locker room. We’ve got a great group of guys. It was nice when we got on that plane as a team. Flew together, joked around a bit and getting ready for what’s ahead of us. But we never stop believing,” forward David Clarkson said Monday morning.
For the last two rounds, the Devils were able to pretty much stay in their own beds the vast majority of the time as they bused between Philadelphia and Manhattan. This trip, then, represents a significant departure from a well-established routine in the East.
“It feels good to get back into this routine a little bit and get on the road and really ... kind of get away from home and get back to just being focused on the single thing [that] is the game,” defenseman Andy Greene said. “Not like we’re not focused at home, but when you’re on the road there’s a lot less distractions and a lot less to worry about. I think it’ll be a big plus for us tonight."
Head coach Pete DeBoer said the 5 p.m. PT start will be unusual for his team but that he wasn’t planning any lineup changes.
He said the whole coaching staff, including assistant Adam Oates, had a voice in planning the team’s schedule for this trip west.
"Absolutely. He definitely threw his two cents in on travel, whether to skate, whether to leave after the game [Saturday] night, like L.A. did, whether to skate before we left New Jersey, come and fly," DeBoer said. "Again, I don't know if there's any right answers to that stuff. You talk it through and you do what you think is right. You hope you get the desired result."
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