Devils positioned to be spoilers
Five of their six remaining opponents currently hold playoff spots. The Devils visit MSG next Saturday to face the Rangers, who have a tenuous hold on eighth. The Maple Leafs, who visit Prudential Center on Wednesday, sit five points out of the final spot.
Jacques Lemaire said this morning he doesn’t find much motivation in the spoiler role, though. The Devils were set to host the Flyers tonight with Johan Hedberg in goal.
“Not to me, personally,” Lemaire said. “Even if you get points and, let’s say a team goes ahead of the team you beat because you beat them, it doesn’t do anything to us, really – not to me, anyway. I think you have to play for yourself; you have to play for your team, nothing else.”
The Hurricanes' late charge has them within three points of the Rangers with five games to go. Few Devils fans wouldn’t want to see their team stall the Rangers' playoff quest.
That scenario would be little comfort for Lemaire, however.
“You’re not in,” he said. “You try to knock them out – you’re not in. Really, you’re not good enough to make it. Trying to make the other team not make it, let’s try to make it instead.”
He’d rather be in the position of defeating a spoiler, not being one.
“This is a team that, let’s look at other teams to spoil our things, and us try to make the playoffs, that’s it,” he said. “Be in the playoffs, where we should be, I think.”
- Lemaire confirmed that Anton Volchenkov will be back in the lineup tonight. The defenseman has missed two games with a lower body injury he sustained one week ago in Pittsburgh.
“Volchie will be in,” the coach said.
Who will come out of the lineup?
“It’s a secret,” he said.
- Ilya Kovalchuk has work to do. He joked after the morning skate that he needs to improve on his breakaways against Martin Brodeur. WIth Hedberg getting tonight’s start, Brodeur has a rare day off, but took the ice anyway for today’s optional.
The forwards practiced their breakaways on Brodeur, who stopped Kovalchuk on two of three opportunities.
“He beat me 2-1,” Kovalchuk said. “I got one goal, he stopped me twice. So he’s good.”
Kovalchuk’s goal was a beauty: he dragged the puck across the front of the net before roofing it over Brodeur’s catching glove.
“That’s the only goal I got, but we’re working on that,” Kovalchuk said. “I’ve got to be better. I try to be. Yeah, he’s pretty good. He’s a pretty good goalie.”
|Parise's new tools.|
The four-time 30-goal scorer will be a little nervous.
“I already kind of am, definitely will be,” Parise said. “I guess it’s kind of like the first game of the year all over again. Yeah, a little nervous, for sure.”
But he’ll have to watch one more game before he rejoins his teammates.
“I’ll probably just be thinking during the whole game tonight, just excited about tomorrow,” he said. “Just kind of getting myself mentally prepared tonight for tomorrow’s game, just watching different things, different system things, positionally, and what the guys are doing now because it’s a little different than when I was playing before.”
Parise will be using Easton sticks that are almost completely black except for yellow graphics on the stick blade and near the bottom of the shaft. It’s a new look, though Parise said the pattern is unchanged.