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Devils seek turnaround in Toronto

Wednesday, 11.17.2010 / 1:02 PM / News
By Eric Marin
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Devils seek turnaround in Toronto
After some uneven play in recent games, the Devils flew to Toronto on Wednesday looking to get on a roll.

Momentum from Friday’s spirited OT victory over Edmonton fizzled in Boston, where the Devils were blanked by Tim Thomas and the Bruins. They couldn’t have asked for a better start, getting a 2-on-1 scoring chance with Patrik Elias and Mattias Tedenby in the game’s opening minute.

But consistency has been difficult to establish for the Devils (5-11-2). Martin Brodeur feels the team needs to find a higher gear.

“We have to be a little more intense,” said Brodeur, who will start Thursday against the Maple Leafs. “I think we had a great chance to score early in [Boston] and after that we shot ourselves in the foot with penalties. They took over the game and we never got back that drive that we had in the last two games. I think it’s something we’re going to have to have tomorrow, just to get that intensity up.”

Toronto (6-8-3) has struggled, but snapped an eight-game losing streak in impressive fashion on Tuesday. Trailing Nashville, 4-1, the Leafs struck for four straight power-play goals in the second period of a 5-4 win.

The dramatic Leafs rally had Brodeur expecting an especially charged atmosphere at Air Canada Centre.

“I’m sure that crowd will be pretty excited," he said. “I think that could help us get that emotion up to play that high-tempo game, and hopefully continue what we’ve been trying to build. It’s a little setback losing 3-0 to Boston. They’ve been playing good hockey themselves, too. Now it’s all about us. We can’t worry about who we’re going to play. We have to take advantage of our situation going on the road, and get a good, solid game with emotion.”

Head coach John MacLean wants a ‘W’ before closing out the three-game road trip in St. Louis on Saturday.

“It has nothing to do with the Leafs, it has more to do with where we are in our situation,” MacLean said. “That’s what we have to focus on. Yeah, we need a win and that’s what we’re focusing on, ourselves.”

Few imagined the Devils would have five wins through their first 18 games. MacLean is staying bullish on a turnaround.

“As simple as it sounds, you have to stay with it,” he said. “We have to get through this. Is it OK, is it acceptable to lose? No it’s not. We do need wins and we need to have an urgency. But we have to stay with the program, stay positive on it and keep moving forward.”

While the Devils have gotten their power play clicking at home, it has been less effective on the road, going 1-for-34 (2.9%) this season. MacLean hopes an improvement is imminent.

“The composure hasn’t been what it should be on the road,” MacLean said. “That’s what we need to get is a little bit more composure with the puck on the road. Sometimes we shoot when we should hold it, pass when we should shoot it, so those are things that we have to fight against and work through.”

• Toronto native David Clarkson will host six children from his Clarky’s Kids charity and their parents at Thursday’s game. Clarkson established the program with his former junior club, the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers, which hosts children battling cancer for games and introduces them to players and coaches.

On Thursday, they’ll get the same experience at a Devils-Leafs game.

“These kids get to come out, they’ll see me after the game and get to meet some of the guys. I think it’ll be pretty exciting,” Clarkson said.

• Matt Corrente, also a Toronto native, was excited to make his hometown NHL debut. The 22-year-old was preparing to buy 20 tickets to the game for friends and family, and talked about rooting for the Leafs fan while growing up in nearby Mississauga.

“Yeah I did when I was a kid,” Corrente said. “How can you not? They’re everywhere there.”

What’s he looking forward to the most?

“I think just the feeling of being in the arena I grew up watching the NHL level at,” he said. “Getting the first feeling of wanting to do that in my life, making that my dream. It’s going to be pretty cool to be in that arena.”

Corrente was too young to remember Toronto’s run to the Western Conference finals in 1993, and drew a blank on the Leafs being ousted by the Devils in consecutive semifinals (2000, 2001). But it’s the hockey-mad environment he’s most excited to experience.

“Everything about the Leafs is huge in that city. They eat, sleep and breathe hockey. It’s cool to come back and get that feeling,” he said.

MacLean hails from Oshawa and had some not so great memories of his first game at the old Maple Leaf Gardens.

“I think I got benched, I’m not sure,” MacLean said. “Toronto was always a tough building for me to play in, for whatever reason. Early in the career, you just hope to keep your emotions in check. First time in there, you get excited, so you have to realize that you’re out there to do your job and not there to see your buddies. You have to go out and play the game.”

• Jason Arnott was excused from practice to attend the memorial service for Luke Richardson's daughter in Ottawa. Arnott and Richardson were teammates in Edmonton. Richardson is currently an assistant coach with the Senators.

• Jamie Langenbrunner (neck) and Matt Taormina (lower body) remain sidelined, and did not travel to Toronto.

• Brodeur practiced wearing padded sleeves the Devils' trainers found for him before Monday's morning skate in Boston. It's the same style worn by the Celtics' Paul Pierce and gives Brodeur a little bit of extra protection on the bruised elbow that kept him out of two games.

"We just asked them what these guys are wearing," Brodeur said, noting that Sidney Crosby wears similar padding built into the shirt he wears under his equipment.

Today's lines
Ilya Kovalchuk - Dainius Zubrus - Alexander Vasyunov
Patrik Elias - Mattias Tedenby
Brian Rolston - Travis Zajac - David Clarkson
Rod Pelley - Adam Mair - Stephen Gionta

Defensemen: Anton Volchenkov-Andy Greene, Colin White-Henrik Tallinder, Olivier Magnan-Matt Corrente, Anssi Salmela

Goalies: Martin Brodeur, Johan Hedberg




1 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
3 NYR 61 38 17 6 192 152 82
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 61 24 30 7 142 162 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43


M. Cammalleri 51 23 10 4 33
A. Henrique 56 12 20 -1 32
P. Elias 53 10 16 -13 26
S. Gomez 39 5 18 -9 23
M. Zidlicky 63 4 19 -7 23
T. Zajac 55 10 10 -4 20
S. Bernier 48 10 8 1 18
M. Ryder 44 6 12 -2 18
A. Larsson 45 2 16 3 18
M. Havlat 38 5 9 -12 14
C. Schneider 23 23 6 .927 2.19
K. Kinkaid 3 4 3 .915 2.59