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DeBoer tweaks lines at practice

Thursday, 01.24.2013 / 3:33 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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DeBoer tweaks lines at practice


 
Having gotten off to a 2-0 start, there isn't much Pete DeBoer wants to change about the way his Devils are playing.

Still, there's always an improvement to be made. So DeBoer switched his top two left wings at Thursday's practice, moving Mattias Tedenby to the first line with Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk, and shifting Dainius Zubrus to the second line with Patrik Elias and David Clarkson.

Krys Barch also replaced Cam Janssen on the fourth line, but DeBoer wasn't committed to keeping those tweaks for Friday's home matchup with Washington.

“We’re going to have a lineup meeting (Thursday) afternoon and talk about any potential changes,” DeBoer said. “We’ve won two in a row so any changes you make you’re not going to make lightly.”

How would the changes impact the top two lines?

“We lose about six inches on the left wing,” Zajac joked. (Zubrus measures 6-5, while Tedenby comes in at 5-9.) “They’re different players. Zubie brings a lot of size, he’s tough to play against, he’s great at protecting pucks, and he’s a smart player. With Teddy, you get a lot of that creativity, the skills. He’s dangerous with the puck at all times.”

Tedenby, the Devils' first-round pick in 2008, had been heating up in Albany (AHL) before NHL training camps opened, scoring nine goals and eight assists in 30 games with the Devils’ top affiliate.

"I guess what I'm looking for is consistency in his game,” DeBoer said. “His effort's always there. You never get B level effort out of him, but you’re looking for that consistency at both ends of the rink where a coach trusts putting you on the ice on a regular basis.”

Former Devils assistant coach Adam Oates will be making his first return to Newark since being named Capitals head coach in June. Oates, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame with the Class of 2012, specialized in power-play strategy during his two seasons on the Devils coaching staff.

“We’ll know how to kill (penalties) against them, that’s the good thing,” Zajac said. “Obviously he’s a great coach. I’m looking forward to playing against him and hopefully we have some success against him.”

DeBoer expects some familiar looks from the Capitals.

"I got a great deal of stuff from Oatesy last year, too," said the head coach. "How we play is a combination of all the coaches we had here last year. We tweaked things throughout the year based on different opinions, whether it was (former assistant coach) Larry (Robinson), Oatesy or (current assistant coach) Dave Barr. What we ended up with worked, so I anticipate that we'll see a lot of similar things."

Always up for a challenge, Kovalchuk is eager to take on Washington’s Alex Ovechkin. Kovalchuk is off to a quick start with three points in two games, including his successful shorthanded penalty shot against Philadelphia on Tuesday.

“It’s always good to play against the best,” he said. “They’re struggling a little bit right now. They’ll be desperate, so it’s fun. Oatesy’s going to be on the bench for them; he was here last year. It’ll be an exciting game.”

Though this is the first time they'll meet this season in the NHL, Kovalchuk’s SKA St. Petersburg faced Ovechkin’s Moscow Dynamo once during their lockout stints in the KHL.

“We won, 3-1,” Kovalchuk said with a smile.

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  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
10 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 74 28 36 10 173 202 66
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 68 16 24 -3 40
M. Cammalleri 61 25 13 4 38
P. Elias 62 11 20 -17 31
S. Gomez 51 7 24 -7 31
S. Bernier 60 13 14 3 27
T. Zajac 67 11 12 -3 23
A. Larsson 57 3 19 2 22
A. Greene 75 3 17 2 20
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
E. Gelinas 55 6 11 -2 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 27 8 .928 2.19
K. Kinkaid 5 5 3 .918 2.47