Devils seek important win in Montreal
|Arnott says goals will come for talented Devils squad.|
But the Devils’ first visit to the Bell Centre represents more than just a pleasant two-day getaway. With one win in their first six games, they also hope to earn a crucial two points in Thursday’s meeting with the Canadiens (3-1-1).
“It’s very important,” said Jason Arnott. “We want to build our confidence up. We have a long road trip coming and obviously we want to get off to a good start here. It’s all about confidence in here. If everybody’s firing on all cylinders and we’re feeling good about ourselves, hopefully that will be able to transpire in a game. That’s got to start tomorrow.”
Since falling to Boston on Saturday, the Devils (1-4-1) have spent four days resting up and smoothing out wrinkles in their play. Their recently completed stretch of six games in nine nights proved daunting, and this week was all about hitting the reset button on a sluggish start.
“I think we needed to work on our game a bit,” said Martin Brodeur, who will start in Montreal. “It’s obvious. Definitely, it was helpful just to come in and not have to think about what we just did. It’s in the past now, and we’ll try to move forward here. Practice time, hopefully that helped to iron out some of the issues.”
So far, the problems have been at both ends of the ice. Entering Wednesday's action, New Jersey had scored the fewest goals in the East (10) and was tied with Ottawa for most goals allowed (21). But that’s what practice is for, and the Devils believe they’ve addressed those concerns this week.
“I think the whole philosophy was getting the puck out when we have to,” Arnott said. “Turnovers are costing us, especially along the bluelines and in our zone. Just chipping the puck out and making the smart play instead of turning it over. Slowly but surely, (the coaches) implemented that into our practices. It was just up to us to figure that out. That’s their main concern right now, just cleaning up our own zone and turnovers. They know the offense will come eventually. We just have to keep the puck out of our own net.”
Zach Parise thinks the time between games has lifted the team's spirits.
Even Parise, who scored 45 goals two seasons ago, has felt the frustration on offense.
“It’s tough not to,” he said. “We’ve had a tough time scoring goals. At the same time, we all know it’s going to come. The hard time is right now when it’s not.”
“Putting one or two in early to get us feeling good about our game,” Parise said. “I don’t think it’s going to take much.”
Jamie Langenbrunner tried out different skates this week just to change things up, and knows a complete effort is needed.
“Doesn’t matter what we think, it’s what we go out and show that’s the important part,” said the captain. “It’s not even necessarily how we start, it’s how we play the whole game. That’s been our question mark. We’ve had a good start pretty much every game, it’s sustaining it for 60 minutes. That’s going to be the key.”
Brodeur doesn’t believe anyone could be pleased with their performance so far.
“I won one game and I lost four and a half,” he said. “I can’t be happy. I think we’re all in the same boat, I think everybody could play better. I had some good moments, I thought, played some good periods and had a shutout. But right now, we need more of certain guys, and I’m part of it. Not really happy with the way we’ve started. As a team and personally, I don’t think anybody could tell you, ‘Oh yeah, that’s been a good six games.’ Nobody would say that. They shouldn’t, either.”
He and the Devils would like to look back on this Montreal trip as the game that flipped the switch on a Devils surge in the standings.
“We’ve talked about it a little bit, saying it’s a great opportunity for us,” he said. “Prepare yourself as much as you want, but the excitement usually brings that level of play from everybody. You get to Montreal, guys that are not from there, they’re so excited to play there because of what it means to the crowd. Definitely we’re looking forward to playing and hopefully it sparks something.”
|Brodeur battling Brian Gionta last season.|
While Brodeur makes his 60th appearance against the Canadiens, it will be the first for defenseman Olivier Magnan, who will skate in his NHL debut.
“It’s like two dreams come true,” said Magnan, a native of Sherbrooke, Quebec. “I’ve always wanted to play against Montreal at home, so it’s great timing.”
Magnan, 24, was called up from Albany (AHL) on Monday. He expects to have about a dozen friends and family in the stands at the Bell Centre.
“First NHL game, you’re going to be a little nervous,” he said. “But especially in Montreal, so I’m just going to try to keep it simple. A hockey game is a hockey game whether you’re in Montreal, here in Jersey or anywhere else. I’m just going to do the same thing.”
Brodeur, meanwhile, is no stranger to starring in his hometown. He owns a 38-16-5 mark and a career-best 1.78 goals-against average against the Habs.
“It’s always fun,” Brodeur said. “It’s family, it’s coming home, friends. Looking up (in the stands) I probably, by looking up, know more people in Montreal than I do in New Jersey. It’s always fun to come back home. It’s not just because it’s home for me, but I think it’s a great hockey atmosphere that you live in. You walk around, people will recognize the Devils coming in. It’s a fun couple of days when you’re there.”
This will be New Jersey’s first meeting with the Canadiens since former Devil Brian Gionta was named the 28th captain in team history. He took over for Saku Koivu, who served as Montreal’s captain from 1999-2009.
“I think it’s a great honor for him, well deserved,” Brodeur said. “People embrace somebody that has the work ethic that Gio has, that Koivu has. It’s something that translates a lot.”