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Line stability working for Devils

Friday, 02.18.2011 / 2:15 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Line stability working for Devils
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Now that the Devils have hit their stride, Jacques Lemaire’s doing something he never has before.

He has avoided tinkering with his line combinations, and it’s working.

“Well it’s the first time in 16 years that I don’t change it,” Lemaire said today. “There’s always a first time, and I had to come back to do it.”

It’s easier to leave well enough alone given how the Devils have played. They’re 13-1-2 in their last 16 games, with just one regulation loss since Jan. 9.

Throughout this run, the top two lines of Ilya Kovalchuk-Travis Zajac-Nick Palmieri and Brian Rolston-Patrik Elias-Dainius Zubrus have been virtual constants.

“When guys are playing well, you don’t look as much,” he said. “If a team is losing, you’re going to look at ‘What can I improve?’”

But winning hasn’t stopped Lemaire from tweaking things in the past. Elias says one of the biggest differences between the Lemaire of this year and last is that the lines have stayed together stable even during this successful stretch.

“A lot of the times, to find something that works, you have to leave it alone for a while,” Eilas explained. “That wasn’t the case last year. We always had different [linemates] two, three games, even if we were winning.”

Last year, Lemaire also had a healthy Zach Parise and more opportunity to mix and match.

“I’ve got no other matchups,” he said. “Last year, I had more matchups that I could do. This year, this is what see.

But the coach’s newfound patience might not last. 

“I see changes coming up soon. In the near future. It’s got to be,” Lemaire said.

Why?

“I don’t know [why],” he said. “It’s just life.”

Devils “as good” as last year
Lemaire said this year’s Devils are as good, but not better than the team that won 48 games and the Atlantic Division title last year.

The current squad is red-hot and trying to climb back into the playoff hunt after falling to last place overall during the first half.

“As good, not better. Definitely not,” Lemaire said.

What if they had Parise, who has been out since October?

“Would be better up front, not as good defensively,” said Lemaire. “Definitely better up front.”

Notes
Martin Brodeur will backup Johan Hedberg tonight after missing the past four games with a knee sprain. Hedberg has won four straight, allowing just six goals over that span. Brodeur is 8-1-1 in his last 10.

Lemaire corrected the suggestion that the goaltending is the biggest reason for his club's turnaround.

"I have to say it’s the whole team," the coach said. "I have to say it’s the whole team, because our goalies were not good at the start because our defensemen were not good, and our forwards, at times, were not good. Now that everyone’s playing better, it helps the goalies, too."

Anton Volchenkov returns tonight after serving a three-game suspension.

– Adam Mair will enter the lineup for Tim Sestito, who cleared waivers today. Mair last played on Feb. 10 at Toronto. He was matched with Rod Pelley and David Clarkson at the morning skate. 

SCHEDULE

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PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 49 36 9 4 161 110 76
2 FLA 51 31 15 5 141 112 67
3 NYR 51 28 18 5 146 132 61
4 TBL 50 28 18 4 131 115 60
5 BOS 51 27 18 6 149 136 60
6 NYI 49 26 17 6 134 121 58
7 DET 51 25 18 8 125 130 58
8 NJD 52 26 20 6 117 118 58
9 PIT 49 25 17 7 126 122 57
10 PHI 49 23 18 8 117 128 54
11 CAR 52 23 21 8 124 138 54
12 MTL 52 24 24 4 137 141 52
13 OTT 52 23 23 6 142 164 52
14 TOR 50 19 22 9 116 134 47
15 BUF 52 21 26 5 119 137 47
16 CBJ 53 20 28 5 133 167 45

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
L. Stempniak 52 15 23 7 38
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
K. Palmieri 52 20 15 3 35
A. Henrique 50 16 16 14 32
T. Zajac 44 7 17 6 24
D. Schlemko 44 6 9 -8 15
A. Larsson 52 2 11 12 13
D. Severson 50 1 12 0 13
A. Greene 52 4 6 2 10
J. Moore 44 3 7 -1 10
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 23 15 5 .929 2.03
K. Kinkaid 3 5 1 .909 2.52
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