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Kovy skates optional; Skoula eager for NYR

Wednesday, 03.10.2010 / 3:31 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Kovy skates optional; Skoula eager for NYR
Kovalchuk skated in Wednesday's optional.
Ilya Kovalchuk and Paul Martin were among the eight Devils on the ice for Wednesday’s optional morning skate.

Jersey's Team was set to face off against the Rangers at 7 p.m.

Jay Pandolfo, Andrew Peters, Anssi Salmela, Martin Skoula, and Vladimir Zharkov also skated, with Yann Danis handling duties in net.

“I like to skate in the morning, especially when we’ve got a couple of guys skating, too,” Kovalchuk said. “Just break a little sweat, feel my sticks a little bit.”

He added: “I woke up this morning and felt like I wanted to go work on my sticks a little bit. Hopefully that’s going to help tonight.”

On a personal note, Kovalchuk has settled into a new apartment and expected his car to arrive from Atlanta sometime Wednesday. Following Tuesday’s team meeting to address their recent slump, he saw the Rangers matchup as pivotal.

“I think it’s a huge game for us,” said Kovalchuk, who has eight points in nine games as a Devil. “We had a good meeting and talked to each other, and that should bring a lot of energy for tonight’s game, especially with the rivalry and that last game against them. That’s huge. For them it’s a big game too because they’re right on the edge (of making) the playoffs, so it will be interesting.”

This will be the second time he faces the Devils’ cross-river rivals since the Feb. 4 trade that brought him from the Thrashers. Kovalchuk was held off the scoresheet in New Jersey's 3-1 loss at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 6.

The Devils (38-23-3) have dropped three of four and have gone 6-12-2 over their last 20 games. But they play nine of their next 13 at Prudential Center, where they're 20-9-1 this season.

“It’s important to have a good schedule,” Kovalchuk said. “You played a lot of road games earlier, and you can take advantage of the home games. I think we need it the most now because we were kind of shaky the last 20 games. We have to turn the season around and be ready for the playoffs.”

Skoula expected to get his first taste of the Devils-Rangers rivalry on Wednesday. The 6-3, 225-lb. defenseman was acquired from Toronto at last week’s trade deadline and said adjusting to a new environment can be a challenge when the team is struggling.
 
“It’s not easy, but on the other hand, I guess you just try to help the team to get back and win some games,” Skoula said. “I’m just trying to work hard and play my best. I don’t want to say it doesn’t matter what comes out of it, but just playing the right way and working hard, eventually you’re going to get back on a winning track.”

He sounded eager for his first taste of the Devils-Rangers rivalry.

“I just know it’s a rivalry,” said Skoula. “I haven’t been a part of it. It’s pretty nice game to start off with (in New Jersey). It’ll be a fun and intense game.”

Skoula, who logged 21:03 of ice time in his Devils debut Sunday in Edmonton, spent three years under Jacques Lemaire in Minnesota. That familiarity with Lemaire’s system should help Skoula’s transition over the final 18 games of the regular season.

“I know what to expect (from Lemaire) and what’s expected of me,” he said. “That makes it a little bit easier to adjust.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Palmieri 82 30 27 3 57
A. Henrique 80 30 20 10 50
T. Zajac 74 14 28 3 42
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
D. Severson 72 1 20 -8 21
R. Boucher 39 8 11 -13 19
D. Schlemko 67 6 13 -22 19
J. Moore 73 4 15 -12 19
A. Larsson 82 3 15 15 18
J. Blandisi 41 5 12 -14 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 27 25 6 .924 2.15
K. Kinkaid 9 9 1 .904 2.81
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