For the Devils and the Kings, the best defense is a good offense that forces their opponents' top players to defend rather than attack. New Jersey upset the Flyers in the second round—and had outshot the Rangers 84--75 through three games of the third—because of a relentlessly aggressive forecheck. Under first-year coach Peter DeBoer, the Devils dominate offensive-zone board play with pressing forwards Adam Henrique and Zach Parise, and use their defensemen to create offensive chances off point shots. This high-energy game, similar to that played by the Kings, requires four lines, quick shift changes and unceasing puck pursuit. It's a refreshing switch for New Jersey, which for so long was the preeminent team of the prelockout Dead Puck Era, when the Devils stymied opponents with their passive 1-2-2 trap. Even the Rangers try to push the pace of things. While coach John Tortorella's system does rely on blocking shots, he also asks his defensemen to get involved in the offense, especially in supporting the rush and pinching down the boards to keep plays alive in the offensive zone.
This is an article from the May 28, 2012 issue