Devils ready for showdown in Steel City

Friday, 10.23.2009 / 4:53 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Devils ready for showdown in Steel City
Jamie Langenbrunner and the Devils skate Saturday in Pittsburgh.
Two nights after an important win, the Devils are set to face their toughest challenge of the young season.

Head coach Jacques Lemaire called Thursday's 4-2 road triumph over the Rangers a "huge win." Zach Parise scored twice for New Jersey, which blew a two-goal lead before Dainius Zubrus broke a 2-2 tie in the third period. Jersey's Team improved to 4-0 away from home.

Up next, another test. The Devils practiced Friday afternoon at AmeriHealth Pavilion before hopping on a plane to Pittsburgh, where they battle the defending Stanley Cup-champion Penguins on Saturday.

The Penguins were an NHL-best 8-1-0 entering their game against Florida on Friday.

"They're at their best right now," Lemaire said of the Pens, who were looking to extend their winning streak to seven games. "They're playing great hockey, they won last year and they're on that roll. It's a good measuring stick for us."

The Devils (5-3-0) devoted significant time this week to practicing their power play, which is 0-for-16 over the last four games. They were scoreless in their lone opportunity against New York.

Devils' '08-09 wins vs. Penguins
Oct. 11: 700K 
Dec. 10: 700K 
Jan. 30:
"We're OK," Lemaire said. "We're just OK. It's like the game we're playing. We're OK. I think that we can improve, and my job is to try to be as good as we can be. So, if I sound not happy sometimes, it's because I know we can improve certain things. I know we can do certain things better. I know we can play more minutes – good minutes – in a game."

Brodeur made 29 saves on Thursday to beat Henrik Lundqvist in regulation for the first time in a regular season game on Broadway. His workload won't get any lighter against Pittsburgh. Evgeni Malkin led the NHL with 113 points last season, and topped all Pens with four goals and seven assists for 11 points in his first nine games.

Next on the Pens' scoring list, with eight points in nine games, were Sidney Crosby (4g-4a) and defenseman Sergei Gonchar (2g-6a). Gonchar broke a bone in his wrist against St. Louis on Oct. 20 and will miss four to six weeks.

Gonchar's absence is significant, but Lemaire was wary of Pittsburgh's dynamic offense even without their power-play quarterback.

"He was playing really well," he said. "It made their power play even better with the shot he's got; how effective he was on the power play. But they still have a good power play. They have so many guys there."

The Devils went 3-3-0 against Pittsburgh last season, with two wins in overtime.

"They're the top team in the League right now, definitely," Brodeur said. "They're the Stanley Cup champions and all that, so definitely it's a big challenge for us to go out there and perform against the top team and see where we're at. Divisional game for us, too, so it's very important."

Brodeur, a three-time Cup winner, said a title defense can be daunting.

"As a team it's tough because you know everybody's gearing up for you," he said. "So many times you go out there and you get the best of everybody every time. It gets old. That's one of the things when you defend, is not to slack off. They don't seem to be having that problem this season. They have guys that take a lot of pride in where they're at in their career in Malkin and Crosby, and they're playing well. (Marc-Andre) Fleury also.

"But it's always that thing that's tough. You have to be accountable to everything because everyone's going to play well against you. That's what defending the Stanley Cup is."

Defenseman Mike Mottau will not make the trip to Pittsburgh because of a lower body injury. Mark Fraser has been activated from IR and will likely see his first action of the season.

Lemaire spoke confidently of his 23-year-old blueliner, who would step in against the League's hottest team.

"It'll be tougher, but I think he's going to be fine," Lemaire said. "He works hard and he's very determined. He plays an aggressive game around the net. I think he'll be OK. Maybe a little nervous at the start. I like the way he was playing before he got injured."

Fraser debuted with seven NHL appearances in 2006-07. He had no worries about taking on Pittsburgh in his first game of 2009-10.

"To be honest, I wouldn't be too concerned who the opponent is," he said. "I'm just really anxious to get out there and treat every opponent the same."




1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 CBJ 74 35 35 4 203 230 74
13 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48


A. Henrique 67 16 24 -2 40
M. Cammalleri 60 25 12 5 37
S. Gomez 50 7 24 -7 31
P. Elias 61 10 20 -16 30
S. Bernier 59 13 14 3 27
T. Zajac 66 11 12 -2 23
A. Larsson 56 3 19 3 22
A. Greene 74 3 17 5 20
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
E. Gelinas 54 6 11 -2 17
C. Schneider 26 27 8 .928 2.19
K. Kinkaid 5 4 3 .919 2.42