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DEVIL REPORT

Some Inspire Just by Talking

June 08, 2003|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

Joe Nieuwendyk has not played in the Stanley Cup finals against the Mighty Ducks, but his New Jersey Devil teammates say he has made an impact on the series. The injured center addressed the Devils in the dressing room before Game 5 on Thursday, and they responded with a 6-3 victory.

"Just the fact that he's with us is a big deal for us," goaltender Martin Brodeur said before Game 6 on Saturday. "He was a big part of our team all year, all playoffs, and it's tough to see a warrior like that go down and not be able to help out."

Nieuwendyk, suffering from what the Devils have said is a hip injury, skated in the pregame warmups Saturday before deciding he was not ready to play. Meanwhile, bruising forward Turner Stevenson was in the lineup for the second consecutive game after sitting out the previous five because of a groin injury.

"If it's good enough to play, you try to play," Stevenson said. "But if it's not, I can't go in there and play one or two shifts and take someone else's spot. You can't jeopardize the team by saying you're going to fight through it."

Coach Pat Burns left the final decision to his players.

"If they're ready to play, of course I'd play them," he said. "If they feel fine, why not? They have to tell me if they can play or not

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John Madden sported a colorful shiner Saturday, the result of an inadvertent kick in the face from Adam Oates of the Ducks in the first period Thursday that also resulted in a three-inch gash across the Devil center's left cheek.

"I guess before it was stitched up, it looked pretty nasty," Madden said of the cut, which didn't look much better after it was repaired. "Jay Pandolfo said he could see the bone. That just goes to show you how sharp those skates are."

Madden, though, refused to add a face shield to his helmet for reasons of comfort and visibility.

"Now is not the time to wear something like that," he said.

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Ken Daneyko also skated in the warmups, even though the 39-year-old defenseman who before last month had played in every playoff game in Devil history knew he would not be in the lineup. He has not played in the series.

"I'm very proud of what I've done in these playoffs to get us here," he said before the game. "The biggest games were Games 6 and 7 against Ottawa [in the Eastern Conference finals], and I was in there.

"I'm at the point where I'm just focused on winning and proud of the guys. It's not bittersweet. I'm just as excited as if I was in there."

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