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Janssen, Pelley in; Devils look to build on win

Thursday, 10.13.2011 / 1:50 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Janssen, Pelley in; Devils look to build on win
Tonight’s home meeting with the Los Angeles Kings (7 p.m., MSG Plus, WFAN 660 AM) represents an opportunity for the Devils to take another step forward in this young season.

Both clubs enter with marks of 1-1-0. The Kings, who opened with two games in Stockholm, have not played since a 4-2 loss to Buffalo on Saturday.

For the Devils, Monday's 4-2 win over Carolina was an important bounce-back effort after the season-opening loss to Philadelphia. Martin Brodeur gets the call against Los Angeles, whose leading scorer, Anze Kopitar, has three goals and an assist in two games.

"For me, they present a lot of the same challenges Philly presents: a big, dynamic group of forwards that really play a hard game,” coach Peter DeBoer said after today's morning skate. “Obviously, any defense that includes Drew Doughty gives you a lot of problems, both on the rush and in the offensive zone. They’re going to be a tough team to handle. There’s a reason they’re one of the favorites this year. It’ll be a great test for us.”

And a chance to build on a key victory.

“Pete’s talked about, at this point in the season, getting better each game and not regressing,” Zach Parise said. “We did that from game 1 to 2 and then he talked about, let’s have number 3 better than number 2, so that’s how we want to approach it.”

DeBoer indicated this morning that there was a lot to be pleased with in the Hurricanes game.

“Obviously, nobody was excited with our first opening-night effort,” he said. “I don’t think it was lack of preparation or effort on the players’ part, I think it was one of those that a lot of teams deal with: the opening-night jitters with a lot of young guys and playing a team that’s already played a game. It was a tough situation and Philly was very good. It was nice to bounce back, execute some of the things we wanted to do, get our big guys on the board with some goals, Hedberg got a win – there was a lot of good things that happened.”

But it was also significant because New Jersey’s top guns were at the top of their game: Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk combined for three goals and two assists.

“I think we played the way Pete wants us to play,” Parise said. “We played our system a lot better than we did in the first game. I think we were chasing at the wrong times, pressuring at the wrong times. I think Monday, we were passing at the right times and pressuring at the right times, and that made a big difference for us. You could see just the offensive zone time, it was night and day between that game and the Philadelphia game.”

The captain hopes the Devils can capitalize on the Kings’ long layoff between games.

“I think any time you play a team that hasn’t played in a few days, you want to try to get an early start on them, maybe they’re a little rusty,” he said. “I’m sure they’re fine with the time change, I’m sure they’re back to normal. But just from not having played in a few days, from our standpoint, we want to maybe catch them on their heels a little bit early.”

The offseason addition of former Philadelphia captain Mike Richards gives the Kings yet another offensive weapon. Los Angeles is 4-1-1 in its last six visits to the Garden State.

"They made some good moves," Parise said. "We all know Richards pretty well, how good of a player he is, how effective of a player he is. He’s one of the best two-way centers in the game. That was a good pickup for them. They’re a good team. They were a good team last year, they’re a very good team this year. Between them and Nashville, we’ve got some big games coming up that are really going to test to see what kind of team we have."

DeBoer made changes to his fourth line, inserting Rod Pelley and Cam Janssen on the wings with Brad Mills at center. Eric Boulton and Adam Henrique will be healthy scratches.

“I think the thing we’re looking for consistently every night is energy, defensive reliability, and, for me, the ability to grab momentum back for us at different parts in the game – or keep the momentum,” said the coach. “Those guys, anybody that plays long enough eventually finds themselves in one of those roles. It’s not an easy role to play, especially when you’re not getting big minutes. We have the luxury here of some extra forwards and we’ve got the chance to throw some guys in that are chomping at the bit, so to speak, to get in there. That’s a tool we’ll use.”

Janssen, a former Devil, will play his first regular-season game at Prudential Center with the team that drafted him 117th overall in 2002.

“I’m very, very excited,” Janssen said. “A lot of work all summer, a lot of work in training camp, and you do it for one reason: this is it. This is going to be very exciting for me. First time playing here as a Devil, obviously besides preseason. But I’m just unbelievably excited about this whole situation. I came in here a couple of years ago and played here with the Blues, saw the atmosphere and saw my old teammates and stuff. It’s just great to be back here and be able to play in this arena. I’m just very, very excited.”

It hasn’t been easy for Pelley to watch from the stands. But after 74 appearances last season, he’s eager to get back in the lineup and contribute.

“Obviously you’d like to start out in Game 1, start off strong with the group, but this is a situation and I’m excite,” Pelley said. “I’m going to treat this as my Game 1 and go out there and do what I do, play my role.”

Notes and quotes
With 24:35 of ice time in Monday’s game and 21:46 in the season opener, fourth-overall pick Adam Larsson appears to have made a seamless transition into NHL regular-season play.

“Composure is probably a real good word,” DeBoer said. “Everybody’s looking for defensemen that play with composure. A lot of times it takes years to develop that at this level and he’s born with it. He steps into a League he’s never played in, the best League in the world, and seems to fit right in. That’s a special attribute that everybody’s looking for.”

But the coach is aware that his young defenseman will face challenges this season.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt it’s going to be the grind of the schedule and, as each level of the season goes one higher, keeping up with that,” he said. “We all know the League starts here, and after Christmas goes to here and after the trade deadline goes to there, and then the playoffs is a whole other level. It’s continuing to raise his level as the level of the League gets higher and also, managing the grind of an NHL schedule. He hasn’t been through anything like this before, and it’s going to be our job to manage that, keep his minutes at a reasonable level or pull him back if we need to as we go.”

Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - Petr Sykora
Ilya Kovalchuk - Jacob Josefson - Nick Palmieri
Mattias Tedenby - Dainius Zubrus - David Clarkson
Rod Pelley - Brad Mills - Cam Janssen

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov

Martin Brodeur (Johan Hedberg)