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Devils Have Deep Thoughts

New Jersey lost Game 1 in part because it forgot Ottawa is more than a two-man team.

May 13, 2003|From Associated Press

OTTAWA — The New Jersey Devils discovered it's one thing to contain Marian Hossa and Daniel Alfredsson, and another to shut down the rest of the Ottawa Senators' potent lineup.

That's the imposing challenge facing the Devils, down 1-0 in the Eastern Conference finals with Game 2 here today.

"We knew that they just don't have one, two, or three guys that you have to be careful of," Devil forward Patrick Elias said Monday. "And they proved it. Their big guys haven't scored, but they're playing well. They're dangerous."

Coach Pat Burns said it was Devil mistakes that cost them in Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss. He counted 25 turnovers, far too many against the Senators, who finished with the NHL's best record.

"If they want the puck, they're going to have to take it away from us. We just can't give it away," Burns said. "They're an all-around good team."

So is New Jersey, which finished with the second-best record in the East and is making its third conference finals appearance in four years.

And while the Devils weren't exactly outplayed in Game 1, they did have trouble matching the Senators' speed and depth. Ottawa enjoyed several odd-man rushes, including the game-winning play in which Shaun Van Allen capped a 2-on-1 opportunity.

Ottawa, which finished fifth in the NHL with 263 goals, has the NHL's most balanced attack, led by the creative right-wing corps of Alfredsson, Hossa and Martin Havlat. That trio is spread across the team's top three lines.

While Hossa and Alfredsson, Ottawa's top regular-season scorers, were held pointless in Game 1, Havlat set up the game-winner. The other two goals came from first-line center Todd White and fourth-line winger Chris Neil.

Center Bryan Smolinski was immediately struck by Ottawa's depth when the Senators acquired him from the Kings in March.

"Looking on the outside in, it's sickening how young they are and how everyone wants to score," Smolinski said, assessing his team. "You can throw the ball up in the air and pick four lines. It's sick the depth that we have."

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