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Elias, Kovy say it's Parise's time

Thursday, 10.6.2011 / 4:54 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Elias, Kovy say it\'s Parise\'s time
Elias retains his "A." (Getty/NHL Images)
As former captains, both Patrik Elias and Ilya Kovalchuk understand what the role demands.

They were named alternate captains yesterday and said today this is Zach Parise’s time to lead.

“We know what he brings to the team and I think the time is right for him to step into the role,” Elias said of Parise, who was announced as the ninth captain in team history. “I’m sure that with the help of a few guys here, older guys, that he’ll do just fine. Obviously, I think he might not be as vocal, maybe at the beginning as some of the other guys, but you can count on him to lead in the way he practices, the way he plays. That’s the best way to lead.”

Elias served as Devils captain in 2006-07; Kovalchuk wore the C while in Atlanta. Coach Peter DeBoer feels fortunate to have a solid leadership structure in place with the start of the season approaching.

“You spend time around these guys, it doesn’t take long to recognize that they let their play do the talking for them,” DeBoer said. “They show up, they work hard in practice. They’re team-first guys. You would think those guys would be very common, but they’re not, especially the elite players in the League.”

Drafted 17th overall by the Devils in 2003, Parise is the only player in team history to post four straight seasons of 30-or-more goals. Kovalchuk's advice for Parise is to continue with the same approach.

“Just be himself,” Kovalchuk said. “You have to be yourself because the guys in the organization picked you as a captain for a reason, so you don’t have to change anything. He’s not just a great player, he’s a great person. That, I think, is sometimes even more important than how you play on the ice, because you have to prepare a lot of things outside the rink. That’s what he’s been able to do for a long time already.”

• The Devils played their final preseason game last Saturday and have spent the week preparing for this Saturday’s regular season opener. They host the Flyers at 7 p.m. 

“Between our last exhibition game and the opener, you’re looking at eight days, basically, so we wanted to try and get some game reps in and some game-like situations in,” DeBoer said. “You can only practice situations so much. That was the idea today.”

Three games mark the start of the regular season tonight: Philadelphia at Boston, Montreal at Toronto and Pittsburgh at Vancouver.

Will the time between games be a good or bad thing for DeBoer’s squad?

“I’ll let you know Saturday night around 11 o’clock,” the coach said with a laugh. “You don’t know and it’s impossible to predict. We spent a lot of time mapping out the schedule for the week. We had the team building day where we got away from the rink for the day on Tuesday to break up the week a little bit. We’ve mixed in a lot of special team work with 5-on-5 play and video. You try to map it out the best you can hoping that you peak on Saturday night. But it’s an inexact science.”

• At the start of training camp, much was made of Henrik Tallinder’s role in mentoring Tyler Myers in Buffalo and what that could mean for the development of Adam Larsson. But it's been Andy Greene who has emerged as Larsson's partner on the blue line, while Tallinder has been matched with Mark Fayne.

DeBoer said it’s all part of the process of figuring out which players work best together.

"The lines and the defensive pairings are going to be a moving target here through the first half of the year until we get to know people,” he explained. “We’re going to talk about a lot of different pairings on D and lines up front that look good and we’re going to switch them around until we get real comfortable – that’s just how it works. What I like about Greene with him is you’ve got two real cerebral players, two smart guys that can move the puck, feed off each other and, I think, play similar games in that they take care of their own end, but they can contribute offensively.”