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Coach's Corner - 3/18

Friday, 03.18.2011 / 5:35 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Coach\'s Corner - 3\/18
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Jacques Lemaire spoke to the media before Friday's game against Washington, and confirmed that Martin Brodeur would make his 10th consecutive start in goal.

"I think Marty’s doing a good job here," Lemaire said. "He’s playing at his best this year. He feels good. We ask him how he feels; he feels good, so that’s the reason why he’s in."

The Devils dropped a 3-1 decision Thursday night in Ottawa. They didn't lose ground in the playoff race, and still trail idle Buffalo by six points with 12 games remaining.

Still, a win versus the Capitals would be nice. The Devils are looking up at Carolina, Atlanta and Toronto in the race for the final spot.

"We do have to win this game," Lemaire said. "We want to stay in the race, and if we want to have a chance, just a chance, to be there, we have to win big games."

New Jersey outshot the Senators 34-25, but were stymyed by a hot goaltender. Curtis McElhinney made 33 saves and stole the game.

Led by the likes of Alex Ovechkin and the returning Nicklas Backstrom, the Capitals pose a different sort of challenge. Michal Neuvirth starts for the visitors.

"Washington moves the puck so well, and they have so many guys that can score and make plays," Lemaire said. "They move everywhere in the zone. I know you can capitalize sometimes if you’re sharp and you can [make them] turn the puck over at that point, but in the zone, you’ll have to play good position and try to get these turnovers."

The chances were there for the Devils in Ottawa, but they fell to the Senators for the second time in nine days. They're 7-2-0 in their last nine, with both losses coming against the Sens.

"It’s strange because the two games we lost against them, it’s probably the two games we’ve had the most chances, and we lost them It’s disappointing because of that," Lemaire said. "You say, ‘Well we had the chances, we just didn’t score enough.’ Then you go with other teams that you only get eight chances, nine chances and then you end up winning the game. I feel we had over 15 chances [against Ottawa]. That’s nearly double, and you end up with a loss."

Devils-Capitals features two of the NHL's top Russian stars in Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk.

"Two great players," Lemaire said. "They’re players that can do a lot on their own. They’re great skaters, great shots – both of them. Good with the puck. Very similar.

"The difference? Ovechkin (29) has more goals than Kovy (26). That’s the difference."

With five goals in his last eight games, Kovalchuk has been one of the hottest scorers in the Devils' lineup. That has drawn more attention from opponent defenders.

"They put checkers against him," Lemaire said. "Everyone is more careful. It’s like us, playing Ovechkin, you can’t say, ‘Well, he’s like another player.’ He’s not. He’s different, so you have to pay more attention. Our defensemen have got to play him a little tighter. You give him room, he’s got all kinds of moves, finds a way to get shots."

Kovalchuk was held to one shot last night: a breakaway that McElhinney stopped with 6:26 to go in regulation.

"He had I think four attempts to shoot, which shots were blocked," said the coach. "The amount of shots that he’s been getting lately, it’s not enough for him. He has to find a way to get more shots, hit the net, get the puck at the net. He’s a guy that I would say when he gets six, seven shots on net, he’s at his best at that point."

As the season winds down to its final few weeks, the Devils will have less and less margin for error. Lemaire expected them to bring their best Friday night.

"If there’s a letdown tonight, there’s something wrong," he said. "There can’t be a letdown tonight."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Palmieri 82 30 27 3 57
A. Henrique 80 30 20 10 50
T. Zajac 74 14 28 3 42
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
D. Severson 72 1 20 -8 21
R. Boucher 39 8 11 -13 19
D. Schlemko 67 6 13 -22 19
J. Moore 73 4 15 -12 19
A. Larsson 82 3 15 15 18
J. Blandisi 41 5 12 -14 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 27 25 6 .924 2.15
K. Kinkaid 9 9 1 .904 2.81
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