One of the concerns the Devils must have entering their first-round playoff series against Carolina is the Hurricanes' power play.
The Hurricanes went 7-for-16 on the power play against the Devils in their four regular season meetings in 2008-09. Defenseman Anton Babchuk scored four power-play goals in the teams' last three games -- two in the Devils' 3-2 win on Saturday and two in a 4-2 Carolina win on March 18.
Devils coach Brent Sutter admitted his team needed to work on its penalty kill, but would not get into specifics.
"There's things that we'll work on," Sutter said."I'm not going to tell you, but there's things that we certainly have to do a little bet job at and we'll make some adjustments."
Although the Hurricanes finished the season ranked 18th in the NHL with a power-play success rate of 18.7 percent -- the Devils finished 15th at 18.9 percent -- their power play improved considerably since Paul Maurice took over for Peter Laviolette as head coach 25 games into the season.
In their first 25 games, the Hurricanes went 15-for-116 on the power play (12.9 percent). Since then, they are 55-for-160 (21.2 percent).
Babchuk scored nine power-play goals and defenseman Joe Corvo had eight, so the Hurricanes do get a lot of production from their points, but Eric Staal led the team with 14 power-play goals and Tuomo Ruutu had 10, including the winner in a 2-1 victory over the Devils on March 28. So, you can't just cheat to take out the Hurricanes' point men.
"(Babchuk) has a hard shot," Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "He's got a long stick and he gets it through. (Joe) Corvo is similar and (defenseman Joni) Pitkanen is a guy that moves up and down that wall. So, they have different views of their offense from the back end that we'll need to pay special attention. But when you say that you have to be careful. You have (Erik) Cole. You've got (Sergei) Samsonov. You've got (Ray) Whitney. You've got Staal. You've got a lot of players that can make plays down low, too. You just can't take everything away.
"You have to give up a shot. You've just got to make sure it's not in the prime scoring area. What I'm talking about with the prime scoring area is the dots. Anything that's inside the dots makes it tough to react for anybody. You have a lot of deflections, a lot of screens, unwanted screens from your own players sometimes because you're giving up these chances. So you have to keep them to the outside as much as possible."
Another thing worth noting is that the Hurricanes drew a league-high 374 power plays this season while the Devils had a league-low 307.
"We have to stay out of the box, one," Brodeur said. "That's something that's a main thing. But I think we have learn. We'll look at tapes and how the got to us. If I remember, (they scored) a lot of similar goals. So, it's important that we take away some of the strengths that they have, what they like to do and their tendencies. That's what the playoffs are all about, studying your opponent and what they're going to do.
"They have skilled offensive guys on their back end and that makes it hard. And they shoot the puck really well. We haven't talked about what we're going to do, but I'm sure there will be some tweaking from what we did in the regular season. That's what I expect.I'm the goalie, so I'm the last one to know what's going to happen until the puck comes at me."
"We're definitely going to spend some time over the next couple of days going over that," defenseman Bryce Salvador said. "The most important thing is we've got to keep the shots to the outside. That's what we want to do, try not to let them have the middle."
It would also help if the Devils draw more power plays for themselves. That probably won't be easy, though. The Hurricanes were shorthanded only 301 times this season. That was the third fewest in the NHL
"I think we talked about this early on," Sutter said. "When we're moving our feet and we do good things (the Devils draw penalties). We're playing a team here in the first round that doesn't take many penalties. They're a pretty disciplined hockey team and we've got to be as disciplined. We've got to make sure we're not taking bad penalties. Drawing penalties in today's game, you have to be moving. You have to be skating. You have to do things."
Why do the Hurricanes draw so many penalties?
"They're a quick team," Sutter said. "Their forward group is as skilled as any group in the league. So our awareness has to be very good."
The Devils haven't had a lot of success playing at RBC in the playoffs. In fact, they have lost their last six postseason games there, including three in overtime. They are 0-4 all-time in overtime games in Carolina.
What makes it so difficult for the Devils to win there?
"I don't know," Brodeur said. "It's definitely a smaller building than other places. In the playoffs, some of the years we played there it was a loud place. I don't know how it's going to be this year, but with the end of the season they had (a 12-game home winning streak and nine-game winning streak overall was snapped on Thursday) I'm sure the fans are into it. I don't know. You're on the road. It's tough to win on the road."
The Devils are also still looking for their first playoff win at Prudential Center. They went 0-3 at home against the Rangers in the first round of last season's playoffs.
Sutter didn't have a lot of time to talk to the media today because he had to take part in a conference call with the NHL at 1 p.m. It's annual thing the league does with all of the coaches before the start of the playoffs to go over rules and regulations.