While the Kings slept in the their own beds after last night’s 3-1 loss to New Jersey (and flew east today), the Devils were halfway across the country by the time the clock struck midnight. Then, later this afternoon, here’s what a few of the guys had to say…
Q. Do you believe you changed their aura of invincibility by winning Game 4?
ZACH PARISE: Hopefully. I mean, I don’t think there was much difference in the way we played. Games 2, 3, 4 we just weren’t fortunate enough to end up on the winning side. We don’t know what they are saying in their locker room or anything. But in our minds, we hope so.
Q. There’s been a lot of talk about your line.
ZACH PARISE: We are getting good chances — unfortunately right now, just for whatever reason, it’s not going in for us. I think we’ve been playing fine. I don’t think that we need to change anything about what we are doing. We are working. We are working hard. We are making plays and we are doing a decent job of spending time in the offensive zone. Of course, you always want to do more of that. But I think that we’re playing fine. We just have to score and then we don’t have this conversation.
Q. Can you talk about your coaching staff and the job it has done getting you ready for big games and making changes?
ZACH PARISE: We were talking about the whole way through, they have done a really good job, whether it’s been switching lines or tweaking forechecks or things like that, breakouts. And we find, whatever we seem to change, we see the results right away. We believe in what they are saying and the way they want us to play. So throughout the whole playoffs, we have played a couple of games a certain way and then find a different thing to do and find out that that works. So they have done a good job.
Q. How important was it to finally break through against Jonathan Quick?
ZACH PARISE: I think it was just — I don’t know if it was so much him or just the fact that we were missing great opportunities, missing the net, not executing five-on-three. I don’t think it was so much like, for example against Lundqvist, we were throwing 35, 45 shots at him and couldn’t get anything by him. I think this team, they don’t — Quick is getting a lot of credit, and he deserves it, but the whole team should get credit for how good of a job they have been doing limiting our opportunities. It’s nice for us to score goals, but I think it wasn’t so much, you know, ‘What can we do to beat this guy?’ type of attitude.
Q. How big was it for the team that Kovalchuk scored a goal, even if it was an empty-netter?
ZACH PARISE: It’s important for players’ confidence. Of course, whether it’s an empty net or the goalie is in there, it’s important for a player to get on the board and just feel better. For us, that’s going to go a long way when he’s feeling good about his game.
Q. Why did you shave the beard and just go with the moustache? Superstition?
ADAM HENRIQUE: Well, we were down, 3-0. I had done it before as a junior, and it’s worked before so why not try it again?
Q. Can you explain your ability to come through in clutch situations? Does that go back to junior as well?
ADAM HENRIQUE: I think so. Whatever the situation is, try to take it game-by-game and do whatever I need to do, score a goal, kill a penalty, whatever it is.
Q: What is your confidence level about whether you can come back in this series?
TRAVIS ZAJAC: I think throughout this Final, we have played well, shown that we can play with them. So we have confidence in that. And we just kind of look back at some of our other series: in Florida, we were down Games 6 and 7, had to win that. Been down in Philly the first game, Rangers first game. So you know, throughout the playoffs, we have not let the pressure get to us too much, so I think the confidence is definitely there.
Q. This team (the Devils) has a record for road wins in a playoff season. The Kings are coming in here tomorrow night gunning for that.
TRAVIS ZAJAC: I don’t think as a team we have thought about that. We are pretty confident coming back here and playing at home, I think we have played well here all playoffs — besides Games 1 and 2, like you said, we didn’t get some bounces. We are comfortable playing at home and I think we’ve played some really good hockey.
Q. Had tension built up through the first three games?
TRAVIS ZAJAC: Well, it’s hard not to get frustrated, down 0-3, that’s just human nature. But we have done a pretty good job of keeping an even keel all the playoffs, sticking with our system, our structure. I think that’s what’s made us successful. We just knew that if we stuck with it, you know, at some time, we would get our chance and hopefully some momentum would shift our way.
Q. Coach DeBoer said last night that he thought the team hadn’t been rewarded through the first three games for how it had played. Did he tell you that?
DAINIUS ZUBRUS: We didn’t talk much after the game. We’ll probably have a meeting tomorrow – we definitely will. But I think that’s that way without people telling us really. The first few games — I think that’s still going into overtime, if it happens, and the games are very close. I think we worked really hard but we never — I don’t think the bounces went our way.
Q. What did the return of Peter Sykora bring to the lineup last night?
DAINIUS ZUBRUS: I think he’s a very experienced player. He knows the sport and we can feed off each other, whether it’s a forecheck or backcheck. A lot of times I might end up on the left side where he plays right now, and we just sort of fill in for each other without any panic. So he was good. I thought he played really good. I thought he never missed a beat when he got in the lineup.
Q. Can one win change a team’s mindset and how hard is it to not think about having to win four in a row?
COACH PETER DeBOER: Yeah, that’s the tough part, but I really believe it’s easy. We know every time we can win a game and chip away, that goal gets a little closer. I know it’s a cliché, but I think we win Saturday night, the series maybe takes a turn.
Q. How would you assess the play of the veterans who returned to the lineup last night?
COACH PETER DeBOER: They gave us a real shot of energy. Whenever you’re out for an extended period, you’re worried about how they are going to get in their timing and things. But you can tell they are veteran guys. They had no hesitation when you talked to them about going back in, and that’s how they played.
Q. Can you talk last night and how Henrique has shown the ability to come through in clutch situations as a rookie.
COACH PETER DeBOER: I think it’s in his character that he has an ability to rise to the occasion, he’s not overwhelmed with the situation when the game is on the line. And you know, he has that special quality that he wants to make a difference at those points in the game. So I haven’t seen a performance like that out of a rookie that I can remember, and we obviously wouldn’t be here without him.
Q. Does it help going into Game 5 that the guys now know they can win in this series?
COACH PETER DeBOER: We needed a win. We needed to get some momentum. We haven’t been able to establish any momentum these three games. Like I said, I didn’t like our Game 1, the way we played, but I thought Game 2 and 3 we played some solid hockey games. And I thought we were good enough to win any of those three games. We couldn’t grab any momentum. We couldn’t get a first goal. We couldn’t get an overtime winner. It just wasn’t working. I think the fact that we finally got that one — we have been a team that’s passed through playoff challenges and responded with another one, and you have to hope that you build on that.
Q. Following up on the same question, on the plane ride back, did you look at the players and see if maybe you can see something?
COACH PETER DeBOER: Sure, you know, you’ve still got a pulse. You’re still alive. You know, the alternative is you’re going home for the summer. Yeah, there’s some life. These guys enjoy being around each other. You wouldn’t want to be anywhere else other than playing for the Stanley Cup in the first week of June, and they are excited to be around. I saw that even when we were down a couple of games, even down 3-0, they haven’t lost the fire.
Q. Do you and the team marvel at Martin Brodeur?
COACH PETER DeBOER: Well, you know, it’s a testament to his legacy, really. He’s the best of all time and you can see why. You know, even at his age, he doesn’t move like he’s 20 years old any more, but he thinks the game so well, and his composure is something that our team feeds off.
Q. How important is it that Elias and Kovalchuk scored goals last night?
COACH PETER DeBOER: Yeah, we need guys to start scoring. You hope just like a one, you hope one goal translates into some confidence and more. So it can’t do anything but help everybody’s mind moving forward.
Q. You guys obviously didn’t score on the power play, but what do you think about the power play, is it getting better?
COACH PETER DeBOER: I like our power play last night. I thought we had some real good looks. You have to give their goaltender some credit. They have got good penalty killing, and you know, the handful of good looks we’ve had in the series, which I consider Grade A opportunities, he’s made some big saves. Can’t get discouraged. Just have to stick with it.
Q. Do they pressure the puck more than anybody you’ve seen?
COACH PETER DeBOER: Yeah, they pressure all over. They are very good, you know, with their pressure, and the guys they use killing penalties. A lot of their offensive players, Richards, Carter, Kopitar, Brown, they are dangerous guys. So I think that that definitely helps.
Q. They have obviously had success on the road.
COACH PETER DeBOER: Well, we have got to end that streak, that’s the bottom line, or else our season ends. But that’s a challenge that we are looking forward to.
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Also, MayorsManor will have live coverage from New Jersey over the next 72 hours – as we cover all the action at practice, pre-game skate, Game 5 and more. So, be sure to follow along on twitter and/or facebook.