The Devils will play just their second game in the eight days since their Game 6 Eastern Conference clinching victory over the Rangers on Saturday night. This is the first of a pair of two-day breaks during the Stanley Cup Finals (there will be another between Game 4 and Game 5, if necessary) and New Jersey spent the day before getting rest and not trying to overthink things.
When asked if they’d rather play tonight, the answers from the Devils locker room were almost unanimously that they would. Travis Zajac was one of those, saying “Just knowing that you come off a game where you lose and it’s not your best effort, you wanna’ get back out as soon as possible. For us, the extra day of rest is important, either way, you can’t worry about it. You control what you control.”
Adam Henrique echoed a lot of what Zajac said about control, adding “I guess it’s a little odd to have a couple days after one game. The things you can’t control, don’t worry about it. We had a day off, came in today, watched video, prepare, and move on.”
Steve Bernier mentioned that the team is prepared to be affected by the long travel between New Jersey and Southern California, and used some of yesterday to get some extra rest. “You just use those days to rest,” he said, “It’s got nothing to do with learning the other team. It’s gonna’ get hard when you fly to LA, you don’t get any extra days.”
Ryan Carter was part of the Devils contingent trying to not to overthink the Game 1 loss. “Guys are probably just anxious to get back at it,” he said, “I think, if our bodies could handle it, we’d play seven in a row, just because the excitement’s there. You want to play, you want to compete, you want to win. So the two days’ rest is tough there. I’d rather be playing tonight, I would’ve rather played last night.”
I asked Carter if he felt Wednesday night’s overtime, which had the Devils a shot away from victory, made the team even more anxious to get back out there. He said “Not only overtime, but when you think about what’s at stake, I don’t think you really get fatigued. There’s always a little more inside, and you’ve got to reach down and grab it. You’ve got to reach down and grab it, but you’ve got to wait to use it.”
In about 30 hours, the Devils will finally hope to be able to use it.