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Sykora hat trick leads Red to scrimmage win

Monday, 09.19.2011 / 10:52 AM / News
By Eric Marin
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Sykora hat trick leads Red to scrimmage win
Petr Sykora struck for three goals in Monday's scrimmage. (New Jersey Devils)
Keep scoring the way he did on Monday and Petr Sykora could go from longshot to odds-on favorite to make the opening night roster.

A free agent tryout, the ex-Devil notched a hat trick in Red's 4-2 win over White in the first scrimmage of training camp.

"I got myself in the position three times to shoot the puck," said Sykora, who centered a line of Stephane Veilleux and Dainius Zubrus. "It went in today, but I don’t really worry about it going in. I just need to find myself in that position to get a shot. I was lucky enough that the puck went in today."

Sykora's getting a look at center, an area the Devils may need to bolster in the absence of Travis Zajac. Camp has opened with Patrik Elias centering Zach Parise and Jacob Josefson playing middle for Ilya Kovalchuk.

Normally a winger, Sykora figured it's been 14 or 15 years since he regularly skated at center. More recently, he played pivot for Jaromir Jagr during a stint with the Rangers in 2005-06.

It's been awhile, but that's fine with him.

"Whatever I’m asked to do, I’m going to try to do it," he said. "Doesn’t matter what kind of position, what kind of stuff, I think the strongest part of my game is my shot. I think I can really help on the power play, just get the shot on for a rebound, or score a goal. I’m just going to take it day by day, and whatever I’m asked to do, I’m going to do."

It’d be hard not to notice him and how he played. To score three goals in a scrimmage is pretty impressive. - Coach Peter DeBoer
Sykora's first and third tallies were rockets. The hat trick clincher came off a pass at the top of the left circle from Veilleux. Sykora stepped into it, ripping it past the glove hand of Johan Hedberg, off the right post.

It was only a scrimmage, but still a nice way for the two-time Stanley Cup champ to open some eyes.

"It’d be hard not to notice him and how he played," said coach Peter DeBoer. "To score three goals in a scrimmage is pretty impressive."

The two-time 30-goal scorer showed he can still put the puck in the net.

"Sure, you’re trying to make an immediate impression right away," DeBoer said. "That’s a good impression to leave for the first time that I’ve seen him."

But goals and quality scoring opportunities may be less of a challenge for Sykora than other parts of his game. He expressed frustration at having gone 2-for-20 on draws.

"I think everyone knows I can shoot the puck, but I have to do those little things like winning faceoffs," he said. "I have to always be on the strong side of the puck, always have to support my D when he pinches in. Just those little things. I think right now, that’s what I have to do and that’s my focus. Of course, I’m happy the puck goes in. I don’t care if I play hockey with my son in the backyard, if I score a goal, I’m happy."

He plans on working with assistant coach Adam Oates, who was one of the League's premier faceoff men during his career.

Kovalchuk potted a goal for White. (New Jersey Devils)
"Just talk to him and work on it," Sykora said. "Just kind of have the inside scoop. Sometimes if the [opposing center] shows up in a certain position, just to know what to expect. I think it’s going to be fine."

His utility up front means he won't be limited to making the team at center.

"I don’t think I would say that, but I know that he’s a very versatile forward," DeBoer said. "In my conversations with Lou [Devils' President/CEO/GM Lamoriello], who knows him better than I do, Lou thought his versatility was one of his assets. The fact that he’s stepped in here and played center, and done that without any complaints and looked the way he has is a good thing."

Red's lineup included Parise-Elias-Steve Bernier; Veilleux-Dainius-Sykora; Chad Wiseman-David Steckel-Vladimir Zharkov; Eric Boulton-Brad Mills-Cam Janssen. On defense, Anton Volchenkov, Mark Fayne, Matt Taormina, Anton Stralman, Alexander Urbom, Eric Gelinas, and Matt Corrente, with Keith Kinkaid and Maxime Clermont in goal.

The White lineup included Kovalchuk-Josefson-David Clarkson; Mattias Tedenby-Adam Henrique-Nick Palmieri; Tim Sestito-Rod Pelley-Mike Sislo; Mike Hoeffel-Steve Zalewski-Matt Anderson. On defense, Henrik Tallinder, Adam Larsson, Mark Fraser, Andy Greene, Brandon Burlon, Jay Leach, and Peter Harrold, with Hedberg in net.

Kinkaid switched teams and relieved Hedberg to start the fourth 20-minute period.

"When you’re rolling four lines like that, you’ve got some guys out there that are used to playing 20-plus minutes a night," DeBoer said. "When you’re rolling four lines, you’re playing 13, 14. It was an opportunity for us to get those guys’ engines going a little bit, do some conditioning. I think any player would tell you they’d rather play another period of hockey than get on the bike for 40 minutes. It was an easy decision."

Red took a 1-0 lead on Sykora’s goal at 7:54 of the first. He carried a pass from Zubrus and ripped a slapshot through Hedberg from the right circle. Kinkaid stopped Burlon’s breakaway chance in the dying seconds of the opening frame.

Sestito tied it for White at 10:05 of the second, getting his stick on Pelley’s shot from the right wall. Clermont then entered the game in relief of Kinkaid.

Sykora restored the Red lead with his second of the game. His shot from the slot handcuffed Hedberg to make it 2-1 at 15:41.

Bernier gave Red a two-goal cushion 18 seconds into the third. Kovalchuk put White back within a goal, 3-2, putting a Larsson rebound past Clermont from between the circles at 6:35. Sykora's third of the game made it 4-2 with 1:14 remaining in the third. The teams played a scoreless fourth. 

Notes & Quotes
Martin Brodeur and Bryce Salvador did not skate in the scrimmage due to lower body ailments, which were called “nothing serious.”

"[Brodeur]'s got a little bit of a lower body stiffness," said DeBoer. "I don’t anticipate it being anything serious, but too early to mess around with that stuff."

Regarding Salvador, DeBoer added, "Same thing. Nothing significant, but again, this is a long process and we’ve got a lot of camp left. We want to make sure we do the right things with these guys in those situations."




1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52


J. Jagr 82 24 43 16 67
P. Elias 65 18 35 -4 53
T. Zajac 80 18 30 3 48
A. Henrique 77 25 18 3 43
M. Zidlicky 81 12 30 -3 42
M. Ryder 82 18 16 -6 34
A. Greene 82 8 24 3 32
E. Gelinas 60 7 22 -3 29
D. Zubrus 82 13 13 1 26
R. Clowe 43 7 19 -10 26
C. Schneider 16 15 12 .921 1.97
M. Brodeur 19 14 6 .901 2.51