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Rolston practices with Holik and Clarkson

Monday, 12.15.2008 / 4:20 PM / News
By Eric Marin
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Rolston practices with Holik and Clarkson
Rolston getting back into the swing of things vs. the Rangers.
newjerseydevils.com – Back in the lineup for five games after missing 18 with an ankle sprain, Brian Rolston is still working to get back up to speed.

Rolston, who has been skating on the right side of John Madden and Jay Pandolfo, has not recorded a point since returning to the Devils' lineup on Dec. 4.

Head coach Brent Sutter tried Rolston on the left wing with Bobby Holik and David Clarkson for Tuesday's practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion.

"Just to have something of a different look, I guess," Sutter said. "Part of it is, getting Brian back to his normal position. It's something that we discussed, and we thought we'd look at it today in practice. I thought all four lines, all eight defensemen and both goalies looked sharp at practice today."

A productive Rolston could be an important piece of the Devils' offense this season. He notched three straight seasons of 30-or-more goals with Minnesota before signing with New Jersey last summer. The native of Flint, Mich., has a power-play tally and an assist in nine appearances this season.

"First thing with getting him back was him getting back into game shape, and getting him thinking the right way," Sutter said. "Now we can get him back in his regular position, and maybe he can feel more comfortable there.  Obviously, we need Brian to be a good player for us. He's finding his way, yet he has to take that next step to get to where we need him and where he needs to be. And I'm sure where he'd like to be."

Rolston notched 39 power-play goals over three campaigns with the Wild, and was among the Devils' leaders in power-play ice time in Friday's 8-5 win over the Rangers. He has averaged 16:37 of ice time per game this season.

"I was just trying to work him into it both mentally and physically," Sutter said. "Now it's up to him as far as doing the other things that he needs to do to be a good player. That's where he has to take the next step. He obviously has done it many times in the past, and he was just starting to do it when he got hurt. Not because he scored in that game, but because he was starting to play better and then he got injured. Then he was kind of back to square one."

The Devils are headed to Toronto, where they face the Maple Leafs Tuesday night. They battle the Sabres in Buffalo Wednesday to complete their seventh back-to-back of the season and second in six days.

New Jersey will be back home to host the Ottawa Senators this Friday for a 7 p.m. start.
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