NEWS

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 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 75 16 27 -6 43
M. Cammalleri 68 27 15 2 42
P. Elias 69 13 21 -20 34
S. Gomez 58 7 27 -10 34
S. Bernier 67 16 16 2 32
T. Zajac 74 11 14 -3 25
A. Larsson 64 3 21 2 24
A. Greene 82 3 19 1 22
E. Gelinas 61 6 13 -2 19
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 31 9 .925 2.26
K. Kinkaid 6 5 4 .915 2.59