NEWS

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.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 75 16 27 -6 43
M. Cammalleri 68 27 15 2 42
P. Elias 69 13 21 -20 34
S. Gomez 58 7 27 -10 34
S. Bernier 67 16 16 2 32
T. Zajac 74 11 14 -3 25
A. Larsson 64 3 21 2 24
A. Greene 82 3 19 1 22
E. Gelinas 61 6 13 -2 19
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 31 9 .925 2.26
K. Kinkaid 6 5 4 .915 2.59