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Team meeting could hold key to turnaround

Tuesday, 03.9.2010 / 4:53 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Team meeting could hold key to turnaround
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The Devils see this as a big week to improve their fortunes.

They held a meeting after Tuesday’s practice, first with coach Jacques Lemaire, then with the players only. The goal? To iron out the wrinkle that has seen them win just six of their last 20 games.

The discussion focused on jelling as a team again and working together to right the ship over the final five weeks of the regular season. New Jersey (38-23-3) trails Pittsburgh by five points in the Atlantic Division with two games in hand.

“That was part of the tone,” captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. “Part of it was just the mindset we have to get back to competing. We’re a little bit off on our compete level and that comes from playing for each other and with each other.”

Beginning with Wednesday's game against the Rangers at Prudential Center, the Devils will play seven games in 11 days, including four divisional matchups. Two of those are against the Penguins, who visit Newark on Friday.

“It’s a big week for us, getting back to playing the way we need to play,” Langenbrunner said. “I don’t think you could ask for a better week as far as emotional games for us.”

Heading into the break, the feeling was that many of the players would benefit from two weeks of rest. But the 1-2-0 Western trip showed there was still some work to be done on the ice.

Sunday’s 2-0 loss to last-place Edmonton might have been the wake-up call. (“It was all bad,” Lemaire said. “Skating, skill level, intensity, aggressiveness – name it.”) In their first game after the Olympic break, the Devils jumped out to a 4-0 lead on the Western powerhouse San Jose Sharks. Since then, they have been outscored 10-3.

“With the Olympic break where it was, a lot of things were put on the backburner or got pushed back because you could point out, ‘That’s the reason why the focus isn’t there. Everyone’s struggling through this, but hey we have a good lead,’” Langenbrunner explained. “But now it’s, ‘All right, there’s no other thing.’ I think all of us knew that it was nothing else other than ourselves and our mind. But Sunday’s game kind of put it right out there in the open for everyone to see.”

Lemaire tinkered with his combinations over two days of practice and said he’ll likely stick with top lines of Zach Parise-Travis Zajac-Dainius Zubrus and Ilya Kovalchuk-Patrik Elias-Langenbrunner to start the Rangers game.

“We have to change something, so the coach decided to change the lines,” Kovalchuk said. “It really doesn’t matter, I think, who you play with because we have so much talent and everybody’s a good player.”

Kovalchuk has eight points in nine games since the deal that brought him to New Jersey on Feb. 4. The two-time 50-goal scorer said even as a newcomer, he doesn’t feel any added pressure to perform.

“Individually, you can help the team win one or two games, but you can’t win a championship,” he said. “With 18 games left, we have to just turn that around and play more for each other and help each other and that will help to reach our main goal.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
7 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
8 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
9 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
L. Stempniak 53 15 24 7 39
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
K. Palmieri 53 20 15 3 35
A. Henrique 51 17 16 14 33
T. Zajac 45 7 18 6 25
D. Schlemko 45 6 9 -9 15
A. Larsson 53 2 11 12 13
D. Severson 50 1 12 0 13
A. Greene 53 4 6 2 10
J. Josefson 42 3 7 -13 10
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 23 15 6 .929 2.03
K. Kinkaid 3 5 1 .909 2.52
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