NEWS

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
Kovy says team approach needed for final 18 games.
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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 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 75 16 27 -6 43
M. Cammalleri 68 27 15 2 42
P. Elias 69 13 21 -20 34
S. Gomez 58 7 27 -10 34
S. Bernier 67 16 16 2 32
T. Zajac 74 11 14 -3 25
A. Larsson 64 3 21 2 24
A. Greene 82 3 19 1 22
E. Gelinas 61 6 13 -2 19
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 31 9 .925 2.26
K. Kinkaid 6 5 4 .915 2.59