2012 NHL Playoffs: New Jersey Devils Must Keep Focus on Game 7

Joseph Kuchie@@jkuchieCorrespondent IApril 25, 2012

NEWARK, NJ - APRIL 24:  The New Jersey Devils surround Travis Zajac #19 in celebration after Zajac scored the game-winning goal to give the Devils a 3-2 overtime win against the Florida Panthers in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Prudential Center on April 24, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Following the New Jersey Devils' 3-2 overtime victory over the Florida Panthers in Game 6, the Prudential Center may have been the loudest it's ever been.

There was a drum line marching through the upper concourse surrounded by celebrating fans, towels were waving and made their way to the ice, and the overall mood of "The Rock" felt like a playoff game should.

But, the party is not over yet.

The Devils must remember that Game 7 is still blocking them from advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Although the victory snapped a five-year losing streak of elimination games at home, tomorrow's game at BankAtlantic Center is still the game that requires focus. The pressure may be off to win at home, but the pressure to remain in the 2012 NHL Playoffs has never been higher.

"We didn't accomplish anything yet," said Ilya Kovalchuk. "We just took the first step and have to be ready for Game 7."

The Devils must keep their eyes on the prize and work toward achieving their ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup. Last night's emotional win was nice for the players and the fans, but the team will not achieve anything if they don't win in Florida.

"We'd like to come back and see what kind of atmosphere it could be in Round 2, but we're not out of the woods yet," said Martin Brodeur, who made 14 saves in the victory. "We have a lot of work to do."

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Steve Bernier and the fourth line have carried the Devils through round one
Steve Bernier and the fourth line have carried the Devils through round oneBruce Bennett/Getty Images

If the Devils want to succeed, they need to focus on their defense. Despite holding the Panthers to just 16 shots last night, they still allowed Florida to score two goals in the second period to tie the score.

Devils head coach Peter DeBoer may also want to consider changing some of the lines around, as key players like Dainius Zubrus, Alexei Ponikarovsky, David Clarkson and Patrik Elias have combined for just three goals in six games (Elias has two of the three). New Jersey has heavily relied on their fourth line to carry them through the series, as Steve Bernier (two goals, one assist), Stephen Gionta (one goal, one assist) and Ryan Carter (one goal, one assist) have been godsends for the organization.

“Our fourth line, I can’t overstate their importance through the first six games of the series,” DeBoer said. “They’ve been great.”

Regardless of change, regardless of last night's celebration, the Devils know what they have to do. It will be interesting to see if they keep their focus once the puck drops.

Game 7 will begin at 8:30 PM EST tomorrow night. It will be broadcasted on MSG+ locally and will be picked up by NBCSN once the Rangers vs. Senators game concludes.