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Lemaire sees much to tackle at practice

Monday, 01.3.2011 / 4:54 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Lemaire sees much to tackle at practice
Fraser returns Tuesday.
Five games into his third stint as Devils head coach, Jacques Lemaire can already see that his team has made some improvements.

For one thing, they’re scoring more. With Saturday’s 6-3 loss in Carolina, the Devils have notched at least three goals in consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 10-12.

They're also outshooting opponents. Despite losing 3-1 to the Rangers last Wednesday, they fired 44 shots to the Rangers' 26. 

Still, Lemaire believes there’s plenty yet to do.

“I’ve got my football suit” Lemaire said after practice Monday. “I’ve got a lot of things to tackle. A lot.”

Goals against would be one. The Devils rank 27th with 122 goals allowed and have the League’s worst goal differential (-54). None of this is lost on Lemaire, who tailors practices to what he sees in game situations.

“We look at the game, talk about different things,” he explained. “Then as I go on the ice there, I know what we need. Now we’ve got to find drills to practice what we need. And sometimes to get drills, I’ll look at tapes. Then I’ll make some drills, write it down.”

Lemaire will mix up the practice if the drill execution isn’t up to par.
“(The players) make me change because there’s no life,” he said. “I’m missing what I want so I have to do something else and try to get them going. And if it doesn’t work, I try and talk to them so there’s some momentum, excitement. But we need a lot of stuff.”

Lemaire wrapped up Monday’s skate by having a long talk with his squad on the ice.

“It’s to do certain things,” he said. “We need everyone to chip in. We need to be sharp in practice so we can bring that to games. It’s a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff.”

The winningest coach in Devils’ history recognizes they're in a “deep hole.” He hopes there’s nowhere to go but up.

“That’s exactly where we were,” he said. “We’re starting to climb now, but that’s why we need everyone to chip in to get out of it.”

— Mark Fraser was recalled from his conditioning assignment in Albany (AHL), and will be back in the lineup for the first time since Oct. 13. He had surgery in October to repair a broken hand.

He registered one assist in three games with the Devils’ top minor league affiliate.

"Being down there just a little while, although you enjoy it, you’re having fun, you’re playing again, it just reminds you how much more you want to come back and what an impact you want to have when you do come back," Fraser said. "I don’t want to make a comeback and just fall right into things. I don’t want things to continue the way they’ve been going. I want to try to do anything I can do to help the team turn things around.”

What does he hope to bring?

"Playing tough, playing sold defensively,” he said. “There’s been times where we’ve had trouble in front of our net for no particular reason, but we need to have some grit back, and want teams to fear us again. That’s something I’m definitely going to help try to contribute to.”

Mark Fayne was assigned to Albany. He tallied two goals and an assist in 17 games with New Jersey, including two points in his last three.

“(Fraser) played last year, he knows what to expect,” Lemaire said. “He’s got more experience than Fayne.”

— Brian Rolston could play Tuesday. He participated in two practices with the team since clearing re-entry waivers on Thursday.

“Probably,” Lemaire said of Rolston's return.