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Devils prepare for Isles; Fraser returns

Wednesday, 12.22.2010 / 4:54 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Devils prepare for Isles; Fraser returns
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Call it a must-win game for the Devils.

Because if they are to stay away from at least a share of the NHL cellar, they will likely need a victory against the New York Islanders Thursday at the Rock.

The Devils (9-22-2) entered Wednesday's action with a two-point lead on the bottom spot held by the Islanders. A win and they could move as many as four points away from the League basement, pending the outcome of the Islanders' meeting with Tampa Bay.

A loss and the Devils would be precariously positioned with an Isles team that has dropped 21 of its last 23, including a 14-game losing streak. New York snapped that skid with a 2-0 win over the Devils on Nov. 26.

“We need to get a win,” John MacLean said. “It happens that we’re playing the Islanders (Thursday). But we need, ourselves, to get a win, and that’s what we need to focus on.”

MacLean’s squad is looking to end a slide that reached three games with Tuesday’s 5-1 defeat in Washington. The Devils’ last five wins have all come on home ice.

“Unfortunately for the Islanders, they’ve been through that for a few years,” said Martin Brodeur, who will make his seventh straight start. “Us, it’s new to us. We’re looking at us more than anybody else right now. It wasn’t the Washington Capitals, it was us last night. That’s the bottom line. I think we have to look at ourselves, what we do, and try to make it a better team.

“Games, they come and go, but our team is staying together. We need to figure something out and start having fun playing the game. The only thing is winning that will bring that back.”

— Mark Fraser (fractured hand) has missed 29 games, and returned to practice with the team on Wednesday. He’s been cleared for contact, but won’t play Thursday.

“It’s been a very long time,” Fraser said. “It feels good (to be back). I’ve been skating for a few weeks now, so the legs and everything feel good. It’s just nice to get out there with the guys and try to get some timing back, and just be a part of the team again.”

He’s taking it day by day for now.

“I’ve yet to really make a hit or take a hit, battle, move the puck,” Fraser said. “I’ve had one practice with the guys; one practice with the guys is a lot different than getting ready for a game.”

MacLean said it’s tough for a player to miss eight weeks, adding there’s no window for a return just yet. Fraser was hurt in the fourth game of the season, fracturing his hand in a fight with Buffalo’s Cody McCormick on Oct. 13

“I’m not sure what the window is because it kind of falls in a funny spot here with the holidays coming up, then playing right after the holidays,” MacLean said. “We’ll have to just monitor it day to day and see where he’s at when we get some practice time.”

–- MacLean reviewed the video of Tuesday’s loss with the team. Patrik Elias’ power-play tally tied it, 1-1, in the second period before Washington responded with four unanswered goals.

“We made some mistakes and we paid for them, so you have to watch them to try and correct them and try not to make the same mistakes over again,” MacLean said.

The coach said he emphasized the importance of players calling out assignments and reads on the ice.

“Talking is communicating on the ice, whether it’s, ‘I got him,’ or ‘You get him,’” he said. “You can’t read somebody else’s mind, but you can tell him what you’re thinking. Communication needs to be a little better.”

–- Ilya Kovalchuk (ill) did not practice but is expected to play Thursday.

SCHEDULE

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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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