Ilya Kovalchuk has been a Devil for 106 regular season and five playoff games.

That's not long enough, he said, to get any added pleasure in preventing the Rangers from making the playoffs. The two teams meet at the Garden Saturday afternoon with the Devils in position to play the spoilers.

"I don't really care by now who is going to be in the playoffs or who is going to win the Cup," Kovalchuk said today. "It doesn't matter to me at all. I just want to finish the season strong and prepare myself for next year.

"Maybe I'm not (here) long enough to feel that rivalry. Maybe next year we'll be in the playoffs with them and we'll play in a playoff round against each other. Then I'll hate or love them more than I do now. Right now I don't feel any differently playing against them than to play against anyone else."

Kovalchuk said, perhaps jokingly: "I hope the big market teams go far so we have less escrow."

A percentage of players' salaries are held in escrow to ensure that the revenue is split properly.

Coach Jacques Lemaire said he is more interested in winning the game for his own team's sake.

"Anything that can motivate you is good. Anything," Lemaire said. "You need motivation. Mine is winning hockey games as a coach.

"One thing I know is we're not in (the playoffs). Really, I don't give a damn who gets in because we're not there. All the teams that beat us, I don't like them. I don't like any of them."

Center Travis Zajac said he would like to knock the Rangers out.