NJD NOTES: Brodeur on Miller; Peters out
Martin Brodeur (6-3-0) has started every game for the Devils so far, winning three in a row and six of his last seven. Buffalo's Ryan Miller is undefeated in regulation (6-0-1), sports a League-best goals-against average of 1.69, as well as a .940 save percentage that is tied with Colorado's Craig Anderson for tops in the NHL.
Brodeur, who needs one shutout to tie Terry Sawchuk for the all-time League record (103), said Miller is a tough opponent.
“He’s a pretty in-control goalie," Brodeur said after Wednesday's morning skate. "I’ve known him for a long time and have played against him for a long time. He’s a guy that, technique-wise, is pretty together. He doesn’t take himself out of the play. He’s pretty solid and he’s a really competitive goalie."
The Sabres (6-1-1) lead the Northeast Division and have built a perfect 3-0-0 mark on the road.
"The whole team, I think they have a great attitude about the way they play," said Brodeur. "I was listening to a couple guys talking about the (Sabres’) systems and what Lindy Ruff brought from the Hockey Canada camp; how effective it was for them. You always have that period in your season when you play really well and you feel you’re invincible, like what Pittsburgh was going through. We’re about to get there and hopefully we’ll be the same way against them tonight."
The Devils are searching for answers on home ice, where they have opened the season 1-3-0. Mike Mottau has said the team wants to play a road-style game at home, while Brian Rolston thinks the power play needs to improve. Brodeur feels Jersey's Team has to stay out of the penalty box.
"Discipline is one of the things," Brodeur said. "I think killing penalties has been a little tougher at home for us, for whatever reason. Discipline is going to be a big factor. But I think offensively, try to get to them; try to score the first goal and get them doubting that, ‘OK, tonight doesn’t have to be our night.’"
Head coach Jacques Lemaire has said it's still too early to call whether his team is struggling at home, adding that they allowed fewer chances in their first two games–both losses–than they had in any games this season.
Rolston sees it the same way.
"I think our first couple of games we were tentative and not playing well," he said. "Since then, we’ve been playing a lot better. I agree with Jacques–it’s early to say we’re struggling at home. It’s not necessarily the case. After 20 games, if we’re struggling at home, then we’re struggling at home."
Devils' special teams will be without Paul Martin (forearm) and Jay Pandolfo (shoulder), both of whom will miss the next four to six weeks. Without Martin's talents as a PP quarterback, Lemaire said the remaining players need to be better.
“That’s what we’re trying," Lemaire said. "You don’t change your approach, you just want them to be better at what they’re doing. The only time you try to change things is when you don’t have success–you have to change things. Power play as an example. If you don’t have success, you have to change something. You have to try something else, and quick. Because you’re just going to get worse, you’re losing confidence and then you drop. You have to find a solution that will give the players confidence."
After facing the Sabres, the Devils will fly to Boston to take on the Bruins. It is the second of 19 back-to-backs for New Jersey in 2009-10.
"It’s a quick turnaround for sure," Rolston said. "I guess mentally you can give yourself a disadvantage if you say, ‘I’m tired tonight.’ But a lot of times when you play the first game, your legs feel better in the second. I don’t view it as any disadvantage going back-to-back."
• Lemaire said he had not made a decision on his goaltender for Boston.
"We'll play tonight and look at tomorrow night tomorrow morning," he said.
• Andrew Peters spent five seasons with the Sabres before signing with the Devils as a free agent in September. He won't be in the lineup tonight to face the club that drafted him 34th overall in 1998.
"You want to play every game; no more today than any other day to be quite honest with you," Peters said. "I don’t look at this game any differently than any other game, other than, I did play there for five years and I know a lot of those guys. There’s no more disappointment just because it’s Buffalo. It’s disappointing, but that comes with my role. That’s what I signed up for, to do this job and you’re not going to play every night. I know that, I’ve been doing this for five years. I’m happy to be in this League for as long as I have been. It’s an honor even being scratched in an NHL game. I could be in the American League. There’s no anger whatsoever."
With the Devils on a winning streak, Peters expected the lineup to remain the same. He has not played since Oct. 16 against Atlanta, which was New Jersey's last loss before its three-game surge.
"I kind of had a feeling because we’d won last game and, you know, stick with the same lineup, pretty much," he said. "You do this for this long, you kind of know when that time’s coming. They told me, figured we won last game, and it’d be the same lineup. It’s no big deal, just have to stay ready."
Said Peters: "You get the feeling a little bit. You win a few games in a row and it’s been that lineup, you try not to tinker with things too much when it’s working. If it’s not broken, don’t try and fix it."
Lemaire believes it can be a distraction for players to face their former teams. He opted to scratch defenseman Cory Murphy from games in both Tampa Bay and Florida, where Murphy had played before signing with New Jersey.
"They’ve got a lot of friends, distractions," Lemaire said. "Sometimes it’s good or could be good. There’s no meaning in our decision tonight."
• Mark Fraser took a puck in the face and left the morning skate early. The young defenseman was working on a 3-on-2 drill and blocked a shot off his stick, into his chin. He sported a nasty welt on his chin after the skate had ended.
• Lemaire said he liked the Yankees over the Phillies in the World Series, which was set to begin tonight, weather permitting.
"Let's go with New York," he said. "They're closer."