Brodeur to face Leafs, DeBoer tweaks lines
|Brodeur gets the nod Tuesday vs. Leafs.
The Devils returned home following Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Jets and practiced Monday at AmeriHealth Pavilion. The trip to face the Maple Leafs closes out a four-game swing.
Brodeur is looking to rebound from the second shortest outing of his career. He played just 8:17 in Minnesota after allowing three strikes in a span of 5:03.
"You have to play," Brodeur said. "I want to be in there and try to fight through what I have to fight through personally, as far as feeling my game. You look at a week ago, I felt really, really good about everything and I played a game in eight minutes, now you feel it’s a little harder."
The Devils (12-12-1) have had their chances to get back into the wins column, particularly in the last two contests. They opened the scoring Friday in Minnesota only to see the Wild get the next three in a 4-2 setback. In Winnipeg, they took a lead on Patrik Elias' 5-on-3 power-play goal, then watched it slip away when Alexander Burmistrov scored on the ensuing 5-on-4.
Brodeur talked about the need for a complete team game, not just two-plus periods of strong play.
"It’s that 60 minutes that everybody will talk about that we need to be a little more consistent in," he said. "We play well for 50 minutes in most of the games. But it’s only that 10, 15 minutes of every game that we’re so-so that we allow big breakdowns."
Special teams have also been an area of inconsistency. Their power play has allowed more goals against (7) than their League-best penalty kill (5).
"It’s the timely thing that’s killing us right now," Brodeur said. "Every time we do something really good, something bad happens. All together we have to be careful of that. When we do something positive, be aware that something could happen, too. Play on the safe side of the puck."
But a stretch of tough luck won't be enough to deflate a group that believes it has been the better team of late.
"I think the guys recognize that we’ve been doing a lot of good things," said coach Peter DeBoer. "We’re in one of those stretches of the season that everybody has where it seems like we just can’t get a bounce at one end and can’t keep it out at the other end. It’s my job to filter through exactly how we’re playing. Our last two games, we’ve outshot, outchanced, outplayed the opponent for long stretches. That will eventually lead to wins."
DeBoer tweaked his lines for Monday's practice. Mattias Tedenby was moved to left wing on a line with Elias and Petr Sykora, while Dainius Zubrus shifted to the third line with Ryan Carter and David Clarkson. Nick Palmieri, who was recalled from Albany (AHL), rotated on a fourth line with Rod Pelley, Tim Sestito and Eric Boulton.
"A couple of things: one I think that we’ve gone a few games here without some offense out of them," DeBoer said of the Elias line. "But I think the bigger picture is we’re bringing Nick Palmieri back in, he’s a right shot, we have to get him on right wing. In order to do that, I needed Zubrus back on left wing somewhere. It was a reason to shuffle things up a little bit, rather than play somebody on their off-side."
Tedenby is the only forward among the Devils' top nine still looking for his first goal of the season.
"I played a lot with Patty last year, and we played pretty good together, so I know how he wants to play," said Tedenby. "I have to skate a lot, win a lot of pucks for them. Try to make some good plays."
For DeBoer, this is a chance to see how Tedenby handles a second-line role.
"He’s got to bring some speed there," said the coach. "There’s got to be some production. I think we’ve tried him in the energy roles on the third and fourth lines and there’s been some good games and some poor games there. This is a chance for him to play with some good offensive players."
Elias, whose nine goals, 12 assists and 21 points are all team highs, hopes the change pays off.
"Teddy is a quick guy, we’ve got to try to give him the puck and let him go with his speed, go for races and let him do his thing in the offensive zone," he said. "On the other hand, me and Petr have to be a little more responsible defensively with him."
One area that hasn't been an issue is top-line scoring, as the trio of Parise, Adam Henrique and Ilya Kovalchuk continue to get the job done. Henrique extended his points streak to five games (2g-4a) with a goal in Winnipeg, while Parise (1g-4a) and Kovalchuk (2g-3a) picked up assists to stretch their points streaks to four games.
"They were excellent on the road trip," DeBoer said. "It’s trying to get a couple of lines going and get a couple of good, depth energy lines at the same time. We’ll keep shuffling the deck. We’re creating shots, we’re creating chances, but two goals a night, we’ve got to find a way to score some more goals."
Notes and quotes
Bryce Salvador did not practice, but is expected to play in Toronto.
"Just a maintenance day today,” DeBoer said.
Cam Janssen also did not practice. He was injured in the first period Saturday and was taken to the hospital, where tests for significant injury came back negative.
"I would say it’s day to day," DeBoer said. "He’s not going to play [Tuesday]. I don’t think it’s significant."
Elias on how his line is different with Tedenby
"A little smaller, a little quicker. Not as much yapping there, because that’s what Zubie does. It’s pretty nice."