The New Jersey Devils, survivors of a double-overtime thriller Thursday in Florida, will still be on a "rush" when they open the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers on Sunday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.
At least that's the opinion of high-scoring Flyers center Claude Giroux.
"They're still in that rush. We've had to cool down and regroup," said Giroux, whose team hasn't played since clinching the series against Pittsburgh last Sunday. "At the same time, it could be a good thing that we had time to rest. It's going to be intense right off the bat. The first period is going to be huge for us."
New Jersey, seeded sixth, needed overtime to win Games 6 and 7 against third-seeded Florida. They won Game 7 when rookie Adam Henrique scored early in the second overtime.
The fifth-seeded Flyers will be trying to shake off the rust early in the game, while the Devils will attempt to carry momentum from their series-clincher into Game 1.
"Our start is huge," defenseman Matt Carle said after Saturday's practice in Voorhees. The Devils "are going to be feeling good about winning a Game 7, and we have to be ready to match their intensity. We've had a solid week of practice where we haven't really been in that game atmosphere. But I think these last couple days we tried to ratchet it up and get mentally prepared and know what to expect Sunday afternoon."
Danny Briere, who centered a new line during Saturday's practice, said the Flyers have to be prepared to play a less wide-open style than in Round 1.
The conference semifinals against the Devils "will be a little more like playoff hockey. We have to realize the series against Pittsburgh was a little bit out of character, and we can't expect the same kind of hockey," Briere said, mindful his team scored 30 goals in the six games against the Penguins. "What I want to see is us get an early lead, much better than we did early in the series against Pittsburgh."
The Flyers won the first two games in Pittsburgh despite getting into 3-0 and 2-0 holes.
Both teams made line changes at their practices Saturday. Was it done just to make their opponent's preparation more difficult, or will the teams actually change their lineups Sunday?
The Flyers flip-flopped Briere and Matt Read. At practice, Briere centered James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek, while Read played left wing on a unit with center Brayden Schenn and right winger Wayne Simmonds.
As for the Devils, they altered three lines, perhaps as a smoke screen or perhaps to get more balance.
There is one spot where the Devils won't make a change: goaltender. Marty Brodeur, the future Hall of Famer, will be in the nets and will try to redeem himself for a poor showing against the Flyers in the 2010 playoffs.
Brodeur was especially effective in the series-winning, double-overtime triumph in Florida.
"I mean, he's Marty Brodeur. We saw what he did in Game 7," Briere said. "You've got to throw as many pucks as you can at him."
Briere said you can make a case for Brodeur or Patrick Roy being "the best goalie that's ever played."
"I'm not a goal scorer, so I don't pay too much attention to the other goalie too much," defenseman Matt Carle said with a chuckle. "I know he struggled a little bit last year, but he seems to be back on his game this year. It seemed like they tried to rest him a little more, and maybe he's a little more rested for the playoffs. He can steal games."
"He's broken all the records and it's pretty impressive, but at the same time we're working to move on, so we can't stop at that," Briere said. "We have to treat him like just another regular goalie, and have to find a way to get pucks through him."
Multimedia coverage: philly.com/flyers
Flyers too well-rested? E3.
Offense wins Stanley Cup championships too. E4.
Position matchups. E3.EndText