NEWARK, N.J. -- Finally. It’s here.
Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals between the Devils and Kings awaits.
Is it just a game?
“No,” Ilya Kovalchuk replied emphatically on Wednesday morning. “This one’s a little different. We can’t wait to get (to the Prudential Center on Wednesday night) and play in front of our home crowd."
After 18 playoff games and three grueling rounds, the Devils are four wins from capturing the ultimate prize.
“It’s pretty special. It feels pretty good to get this organization back where it belongs,” David Clarkson said. “We’re having fun and it’s a good time of the season.”
So how’s the mood in the dressing room?
“It’s exciting but it’s kind of calm here, the calm before the storm a bit,” Patrik Elias said. "The excitement, the jitters, it’s all here because everyone knows what’s at stake.”
Devils coach Peter DeBoer figured it would be that way.
“You wanna play. You’re tired of waiting around, looking at film, practicing,” DeBoer said. “It’s anxious energy. And whatever I’m feeling I’m sure it’s double for the players.”
That sense of excitement extends outside the arena.
“You see the excitement in the community. I live in the community. My kids go to school here,” DeBoer said. “And it’s not just Newark, it’s New Jersey in general, it’s an exciting time, with the Giants winning the Super Bowl and a New York/New Jersey team in the Stanley Cup finals. This is an exciting sports area to begin with. But it’s great timing.”
At this time last year, DeBoer was unemployed, having been fired by the Panthers.
“You’re sitting at home, wondering where you’re going to work next,” DeBoer said. “You’re thinking about your future, talking about selling your house. It seems humorous now, but when you go through something like that, it’s not. But I have a rock-solid wife who really I thought kept me in a good place through that time, and it wasn’t that long ago.”
DeBoer wrapped up his press conference on Wednesday morning by again responding to those who wanted a Rangers-Kings final: “Tough luck.”
• The Devils’ line will stay the same on Wednesday night.