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MacLean, Devils know task at hand

Team put through tough practice; Brodeur will be ready Friday in Ottawa

Tuesday, 12.7.2010 / 4:17 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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MacLean, Devils know task at hand
Brodeur said he'll be ready for Friday's game in Ottawa.
It looked as though the Devils had gotten an early lump of coal in their stockings on Tuesday: the dreaded bag skate.

But afterward, players and coach said there was no message in the grueling wind sprints that concluded the practice, just an opportunity to get in a good, hard workout before Friday’s trip to Ottawa.

“Message? We know what’s going on,” John MacLean said. “They should know what’s going on. We know what situation we’re in. It was a good day to get a good skate out of them.”

Having dropped three in a row and six straight on the road with Monday’s 2-1 loss in Pittsburgh, the Devils (8-17-2) know finding their groove will be a tough task. Martin Brodeur watched from the bench while backing up Johan Hedberg, who made 32 saves.

“I’m sure (coach) isn’t happy about the results of our game,” Brodeur said. “We competed hard last night to allow two goals in Pittsburgh on a hot team. Just, we couldn’t get more than one. But again, right now, our performance is about getting the job done. I’m sure he’s definitely displeased. The longer this is dragging, the deeper the hole is getting.”

Brodeur has missed eight games since aggravating his bruised right elbow, but said he’ll be ready to face the Senators. Hedberg has made seven straight starts and played well in Brodeur’s absence. He allowed two goals or less in six of those appearances, including a shutout of Washington on Nov. 22.

Overall, Moose is 4-6-1 this year with a 2.94 goals-against average and .905 save percentage.

There have been other positive signs for the Devils like the road power play, which has gone 3-for-7 in its last two games after a 1-for-43 skid to start the year.

Brian Rolston’s power-play tally was the lone goal against the Penguins. He was hit by a Jason Arnott shot, before putting home the loose puck for his second of the year.

“The power play’s funny,” MacLean said. “It wasn’t a textbook power-play goal that we scored there. The good part about it was (Mattias Tedenby) made a good play by protecting the puck and buying time. Then you take a shot and that’s what happens when you shoot the puck: Strange things happen. It hit Rollie, and he’s standing there and he bangs it in. That’s what we have to do.”

Another bright spot is the penalty kill, which is nine for its last nine after blanking two of the League’s best. The PK went 3-for-3 in Philadelphia on Saturday, then 6-for-6 against the Penguins, including a 34-second 5-on-3.

Five-on-five play, though, has been a challenge. The Devils have been outscored 7-1 at even strength in the last two contests.

The tonic, MacLean says, is more shots

“Five-on-five, you have to put the puck towards the net, go to the net,” the coach explained. “The rebounds will be there if you put the puck towards the net. We need to do more of it.”

A three-game homestand begins Saturday against Detroit (17-5-3), and will welcome Phoenix (13-7-6) and Nashville (12-8-6) to the Rock.

The Devils know they have their work cut out for them.

“I don’t think we need a message,” said Dainius Zubrus. “We haven’t won many games. I don’t feel like I need a message. I know we haven’t played well and we haven’t won. I know where we’re at, we need to be better.”

Hospital visits set for Wednesday
For more than a decade, Devils players have given back to the community by visiting local hospitals. That tradition continues Wednesday, when the Devils will make their annual stops at eight pediatric wards in the area.

Parise to attend ceremony in Drumthwacket
Zach Parise will attend a ceremony and reception hosted by New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie to honor New Jersey Heroes on Wednesday.

The event will be held at Drumthwacket, the Governor’s residence in Princeton. Among the programs being recognized is the New Jersey State Libraries Champions campaign. Parise has lent his support to the program, which has featured the currently injured left winger on area billboards and posters to promote reading.

Colin White had a rest day Tuesday and did not skate. … Mike McKenna has been assigned to Albany (AHL). He made two appearances, including a hometown start in St. Louis on Nov. 20. He relieved Hedberg against Montreal on Dec. 2 when he made 26 saves plus a stop on Tomas Plekanec’s penalty shot. McKenna was 0-1-0 with a 3.05 goals-against average and .893 save percentage.

Today’s lines
Ilya Kovalchuk - Travis Zajac - Jamie Langenbrunner
Patrik Elias Jason Arnott Dainius Zubrus
Brian Rolston Adam Mair David Clarkson
Alexander Vasyunov Rod Pelley Stephen Gionta/Mattias Tedenby

Defense: Matt Corrente, Mark Fayne, Andy Greene, Olivier Magnan, Anssi Salmela, Henrik Tallinder, Anton Volchenkov

Martin Brodeur, Johan Hedberg