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For starters, Devils seek early jump

Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 7:40 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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For starters, Devils seek early jump
Parise and Devils looking to get out of gate quickly in 2011-12.
(New Jersey Devils)
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Last season, a 9-25-2 start put the Devils so far out of the playoff hunt that they couldn't recover. It's no wonder then that on the first day of training camp, many stressed the importance of a strong start to 2011-12.

"It’s huge," said Patrik Elias. "Right from the get-go, the first games, they’re very important. You've got to get confidence into the locker room. The guys need to get confidence as a group, as individuals. We know from what happened last year that we had that at the beginning, then we lost a few games and all of a sudden it snowballed."

By the time the wins finally did pile up last year, it was too late.

"We didn’t get any luck on our side and just started to panic, squeezing our sticks," Elias said. "All of a sudden, we turned back and we had 40 games behind us that we couldn’t turnaround. It is important to trust each other, get on the same page, system-wise, with the new coach."

A 31-goal campaign from Ilya Kovalchuk was a bright spot, but left the Devils short of where they wanted to be.

"We still didn’t achieve our goal," Kovalchuk said. "That was a good run and that was way more fun than the first half, that’s for sure. We don’t want to put ourselves in that hole again. We have to start really good."

Will it be hard for this group to put that behind them? Elias doesn't think so. Jacques Lemaire righted the ship in January, and the hope is that new coach Peter DeBoer's uptempo system will keep wind in the Devils' sails. 

"Gotta let it go," said Elias. "Every year is different. We have a lot of new faces around. It’s a fresh start for everyone. The system will be changed in little ways, so we have to adjust to that, every one of us. If you don’t win the first couple of games, you can’t panic. It’s a long season and obviously you do want to start off well."

Elias summarized DeBoer's message: "In the past, maybe we were too passive positioning-wise playing a little too much. He wants to change that, he wants to be aggressive, obviously [force turnovers] as much as possible in the right places on the ice."

If the Devils can put it all together early, their goal of the postseason will stay within reach.

"We need to get back there, get ourselves back in the top eight in the East," Zach Parise said. "You have to start somewhere. We’ve definitely got the ability to do it, we’ve got a good team, we’ve got good players. We’ll try our best."

Parise is one of the Devils poised for a successful campaign. He's looking to bounce back after knee surgery cost him most of 2010-11. He returned to play one game on April 2 before the decision was made to shut him down for the year.

Parise doesn't expect the time away to slow him down.

"I personally felt a little rusty today, but I’m sure everybody did out there just from the long layoff," he said. "The way I’m approaching it, it’s not much different than any other summer or from any other of these players. They’ve been done since April also. I don’t think it’s going to be much different from what I missed compared to what these guys missed. They haven’t played hockey in a long time, either. I don’t think I’m going to be behind them or anything."

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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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