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NEWS

Line stability working for Devils

Friday, 02.18.2011 / 2:15 PM / 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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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 64 41 18 5 172 142 87
2 NYR 63 39 17 7 197 155 85
3 NYI 65 41 21 3 207 182 85
4 TBL 65 39 20 6 213 171 84
5 DET 62 36 15 11 182 160 83
6 PIT 63 36 18 9 182 158 81
7 WSH 65 35 20 10 193 162 80
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 64 28 23 13 156 181 69
10 OTT 62 28 23 11 176 167 67
11 PHI 64 27 25 12 170 186 66
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 64 26 33 5 173 195 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
M. Cammalleri 52 24 10 5 34
A. Henrique 57 12 20 -2 32
P. Elias 54 10 17 -12 27
S. Gomez 40 5 19 -10 24
T. Zajac 56 10 10 -3 20
S. Bernier 49 10 9 0 19
A. Larsson 46 3 16 5 19
M. Ryder 44 6 12 -2 18
A. Greene 64 2 13 7 15
E. Gelinas 44 5 9 -2 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 24 23 6 .928 2.17
K. Kinkaid 3 4 3 .915 2.59