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NEWS

Team meeting could hold key to turnaround

Tuesday, 03.09.2010 / 4:53 PM / News
By Eric Marin
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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

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 40 10 16 -1 26
J. Jagr 43 9 16 -10 25
M. Cammalleri 35 15 6 -3 21
P. Elias 37 6 14 -14 20
M. Zidlicky 47 4 16 -7 20
M. Ryder 42 6 12 -2 18
T. Zajac 39 8 8 -7 16
S. Gomez 23 4 12 -5 16
S. Bernier 32 6 7 1 13
M. Havlat 29 5 7 -10 12
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 16 19 4 .920 2.41
K. Kinkaid 1 3 3 .913 2.54