Devils stray from what’s made them successful in Game 1 loss to Kings

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NEWARK, N.J. — The New Jersey Devils already eliminated John Tortorella and his playoff reign of confrontational press conferences. But Thursday, Peter DeBoer sounded a little bit like the New York Rangers’ coach when asked about what went wrong in the Game 1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

“What are the words of John Tortorella? Don’t coach,” the Devils‘ coach said with a smile. “I can’t box this up and wrap this up in one nice little package for you. We had a lot of different issues. Some of them you give credit to them for what they did. Some of them were self-inflicted. We’ve got to fix them all up.”

The word of the day was execution. The Kings had what they called perhaps their worst game of the playoffs, but the Devils‘ play was oftentimes as choppy as the rough ice at Prudential Center. The aggressive forecheck and opportunistic offense that got them this far were mired in a puddle of nerves on the big stage of the Stanley Cup Final.

“I think nerves, jitters, ice. I don’t know. You can point to a couple different areas,” New Jersey forward Ryan Carter said. “I think at times we were careless with the puck a little bit and got away from what got us where we’re at, turning it over and not making the plays that we’re used to making.”

The Devils and Kings fell victim to the feeling out process that comes with the start of any playoff series, and especially the Cup Final when teams aren’t intimately familiar with each other. Carter said he and his teammates “waited to learn” the Kings a little bit too much.

“That obviously is a mistake,” he said. “We should have gone out there and played our game.”

The Devils playing their game isn’t complicated. And if they get back to it, everyone should expect a much different pace and style to Game 2 after the lessons learned Wednesday night.

“We weren’t reacting quick enough. We just didn’t execute in a lot of areas. We didn’t execute well enough in our dumps, on our routes. We didn’t win enough battles to keep pucks alive, keep the forecheck going,” center Travis Zajac said. “We can execute in more areas and we’ll have more success.”

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