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Kovalchuk: I don’t really care who I play against

Ilya Kovalchuk

NEWARK, NJ - MAY 03: Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the New Jersey Devils warms up prior to Game Three against the Philadelphia Flyers of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center on May 3, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Ilya Kovalchuk wasn’t much of a factor in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals and Kings defenseman Drew Doughty deserves some of the credit for that. As we previously reported, the Devils aren’t going to shy away from that matchup.

“In order to get (Kovalchuk) away (from Doughty and Scuderi), we’re going to have to get away from a four-line game, which has been our strength,” Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. “If they’re matching up against Kovalchuk, then they’re not matching up against (Zach) Parise or other guys.”

Kovalchuk seems to be comfortable with the Devils’ plan.

“I don’t really care who I play against, we just have to work as a line, actually a five-man unit because that’s when we’re successful,” Kovalchuk said. “In the third we started moving the puck and we started forechecking better. It doesn’t really matter who you’re playing against, you just have to be on top of your game and let them make decisions.

“I’ve played against some good Ds and figured out how to go through them by doing the things I’m supposed to do. That’s what I will try to do next game.”

Naturally, if the Devils strategy doesn’t work out in Game 2 on Saturday, DeBoer might change his tune. He has embraced significant changes in the past, particularly in the Eastern Conference finals following their shutout losses against New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist in Games 1 and 3.