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Zajac excited to be back with the team

Practices for the first time in 2011-12

Wednesday, 12.7.2011 / 4:43 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Zajac excited to be back with the team

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Travis Zajac returned to practice Wednesday, marking the first time the Devils’ top center has skated with the team since offseason surgery on his Achilles tendon.

“I feel great,” a smiling Zajac said following a long on-ice session. “It’s nice to be back here with the guys.”

Zajac has no restrictions on what he can do on the ice. He took part in full-speed drills, including one-on-one battles.

“The legs felt great,” he said. “I knew going on the ice that wouldn’t be my concern. It was more the timing, the hands, thinking and moving at the same time with the puck. That’s what I was worried about and that’s what I’ll still have to get down. The legs felt great.”

He reported no pain in the Achilles, which was repaired on Aug. 18.

“It’s a lot of work, but it went by quick,” Zajac said. “Obviously I had a lot of people helping me along the way, invested a lot of time in me to try and get me back quicker. I’ve been in good hands everywhere I’ve been and I’ve had a lot of help to get to this point.”

The Devils’ all-time ironman, Zajac had appeared in 401 consecutive games before getting injured during a summer workout.

“It feels like an eternity since I’ve been a part of this team, so it’s nice to get out there and skate with the guys and have some fun, and get back to work,” he said.

Zajac wore a green jersey with Rod Pelley and was not assigned to a regular line. He had been back in New Jersey skating on his own for the past two weeks.

Devils’ President/CEO/GM Lou Lamoriello said Zajac will not play this week when the team hosts Ottawa and Montreal, and probably will not return for next week’s Monday-Tuesday back-to-back in Tampa Bay and Florida.

That leaves Friday, Dec. 16 as a possibility. The Devils will retire Scott Niedermayer’s No. 27 that night before hosting Dallas.

“Right now he’s certainly been on schedule with everything he’s done, as you see he’s in practice today,” Lamoriello said. “We’ll see how he sustains a full practice and where he’s at. We’ll reevaluate him every day and we’ll put a target on this with how he feels.” 

Coach Peter DeBoer liked what he saw from his centerman in his first team practice.

“It’s nice to have him back out,” DeBoer said. “He jumped in all the drills, there was really no hesitation on his part and really no restrictions on what we can do with him, so that’s a good sign.”

DeBoer hasn’t had Zajac at his disposal this season, but knows plenty about his two-way versatility, responsible play and scoring touch.

“Another guy that’s going to help us in every situation: on the power play, on the penalty kill, 5-on-5, with the lead,” he said. “I think he’s going to give us scoring depth whether he’s out there with Kovalchuk and Parise or whether it’s somewhere else. He makes us a much better team.”

DeBoer and Zajac do have a history together, having worked together as part of Team Canada at last year’s World Championship.

“It was good to work with him there,” said the coach. “I actually ran the penalty kill and his was a big part of that. He was great to work with, so I’m pretty familiar with him after spending three weeks with him over there.”

Notes and quotes
Lamoriello updated the status of Jacob Josefson (clavicle), who has been out since Oct. 21.

“He’s been cleared to skate and he’s working out and getting better, but he’s a ways,” Lamoriello said.

Josefson’s recovery is on schedule.

“Everything has been positive,” Lamoriello said. “There hasn’t been any setbacks up to this point.”

Cam Janssen (chest contusion) did not practice. He was injured Saturday in Winnipeg and did not play in Tuesday's 3-2 overtime win at Toronto.

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STANDINGS

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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