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Lemaire leads first morning skate

Sunday, 12.26.2010 / 3:05 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Lemaire leads first morning skate
Lemaire said Wednesday the Devils must regain their confidence.
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Three days after retaking the reins in New Jersey, Jacques Lemaire was out on the ice Sunday morning to lead the Devils through the first practice of his third term.

It was only a morning skate to prep for tonight’s home meeting with Toronto. But with the two days off for the Christmas break, Lemaire ratcheted up the intensity to get his group ready for action.

“It’s nice to be able to work with them a little bit,” Lemaire said. “I think this is what we need: practices. We need this so they really understand what we’re trying to achieve, and what we want, how the game should be played.”

Lemaire returned Wednesday and watched his group fall into last place overall with a 5-1 loss to the New York Islanders. He talked after the game about the Devils’ slumping spirits and the importance of coming out and just winning a game.

The Devils (9-23-2) are calling Lemaire's arrival a chance for a clean slate. They have dropped four in a row and nine of their last 10.

“Little more in your face pre-game skate than normal, but I think all of us know what kind of practices he runs,” said captain Jamie Langenbrunner. “A lot of game situations that are going to allow you to get right into a game feel. Especially after having a couple days off, I think he wanted to get that going here this morning.”

There’s no quick solution with 48 games to go, but a victory would be a step in the right direction.

It starts with confidence.

“With the lack of confidence, we deviated from how we should play,” Lemaire said. “You lose confidence, then you don’t work as hard. You don’t backcheck as hard, you don’t stop in your zone. You don’t do the little things you should do when things are going well.”

Lemaire agreed with the suggestion that the team might have thought it was too talented to struggle the way it has. Their top line to begin the year boasted a two-time 50-goal scorer in Ilya Kovalchuk and a 40-goal scorer in Zach Parise.

“That’s exactly what I thought,” he said. “Maybe a little overconfident at the start of the season. Because you look at the team, the roster, and this is a good team.”

This isn’t the first clean-up duty behind the bench for Lemaire, who got his first NHL coaching experience after replacing Montreal’s Bob Berry in 1983-84. In the final 17 games, Lemaire guided the Canadiens to a 7-10-0 mark, then an appearance in the conference final.

“It’s not a lot different than going to another team and starting with another club, first day,” he said. “Not a lot different, not when the team is like this right now. You have to start all over again because of the confidence. You look at the guys with how they play and you can tell. They come back (to the bench), their heads are down.

“They go into the corners not to get the puck, really. Or they feel they won’t get it.”

Lemaire’s goal is to get the Devils playing more competitively.

“This is another reason why practices are important,” he said. “You get in the practice, you make them work, and then they work in games. Now everyone, their mind is somewhere else, in a way: on defeat, on mistakes, not playing well. Now you have to build it up so we get stronger mentally and we can play the game for 60 minutes, being positive and work.”

The homestand continues Wednesday against the Rangers and Friday against Atlanta. The Devils won’t get their first full practice under Lemaire 3.0 until Monday.

“They got a new voice,” he said. “They don’t have the practices, but they got a new voice. It has to help, because you’re coming in, you have to be positive. In a way, I have to be positive because I haven’t been with them, even though I’ve watched them. So it’s easier for me than for Johnny MacLean to be positive at this point after you lose so many games.

“I’m going to get mad, too. I would. Maybe it’s coming soon.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
8 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
9 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
L. Stempniak 53 15 24 7 39
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
K. Palmieri 53 20 15 3 35
A. Henrique 51 17 16 14 33
T. Zajac 45 7 18 6 25
D. Schlemko 45 6 9 -9 15
A. Larsson 53 2 11 12 13
D. Severson 50 1 12 0 13
A. Greene 53 4 6 2 10
J. Josefson 42 3 7 -13 10
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 23 15 6 .929 2.03
K. Kinkaid 3 5 1 .909 2.52
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