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NEWS

Back in the fold

Olympians return for first full practice since start of break

Monday, 02.24.2014 / 4:16 PM / News
By Eric Marin
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Back in the fold
Olympians return for first full practice since start of break



 
After crossing nine time zones and traveling more than 5,000 miles to get home, the Devils’ Olympians were on the ice for practice Monday and ready to step back into an NHL marathon that still has 23 games to go.

Jaromir Jagr, fresh off his fifth Olympic appearance, offered a rave review of his experience in Sochi.

“I think, to me, it was probably the best Olympics I've been in,” said the Devils’ leading scorer. “The organization, everything, was the best. The buildings, facilities, the arenas – everything was brand new. They spent a lot of money, but they did a good job.”

Jagr was in more familiar territory at AmeriHealth Pavilion, skating with linemates Dainius Zubrus and Travis Zajac. Patrik Elias was back at center, between Adam Henrique and Damien Brunner.

Elias' fourth Olympics were memorable, but for the wrong reasons. Illness limited him to just three of the Czech Republic's five games, though he returned in time for the Czechs' quarterfinal loss to the United States.

"Something was going around there," Elias said. "A few of the athletes got sick. I got a fever for four days, I couldn't really breathe much, I had bad bronchitis. Wrong time, but I'm happy to be back now and feeling well."

Brunner’s first Olympics ended in the qualification round, but the Swiss winger enjoyed his time in Russia.

“We went to watch some curling and some short track speedskating and that was pretty exciting,” Brunner said. "The whole feeling, when you got to the food hall, you saw all the athletes every day, that was pretty special. The setup was unbelievable, how they built everything. It was really nice.”

With the Winter Games in the rear view, the quest for a playoff berth is back in focus. The season resumes Thursday against Columbus at Prudential Center.

“I think all we need to do is score the one extra goal in those games,” Jagr said. “Keep the same defense we play, our goaltenders are awesome. Find one extra goal in the game. That would make a huge difference with all the ties we would win. One extra goal is what we need."

Jagr believes good things could happen for the Devils in the postseason if they can get in.

“I feel like we have a good enough team to do some damage,” he said. “We were able to play close games and even beat the best teams in our conference. We play Boston pretty well, Pittsburgh. Once you get in, you never know. The way we play defense, we might surprise a lot of teams."

Keeping No. 68 fresh after the Olympics will be a top priority. Head coach Peter DeBoer knows his best offensive player will need to be at the top of his game down the homestretch.

"He got back on Thursday, so we gave him Friday, Saturday, Sunday off,” DeBoer said. "He’s back out here today. I’m probably more worried about it than him. When you speak to him about it, he sees it as a non-issue and his play seems to have backed that up. I think our schedule fits that it should help him. We’re not overloaded here the last 23 games although we have six or seven back-to-backs left.”

Jagr doesn’t anticipate any ill effects from his Olympic participation, though.

"Because I played those games over there, I think it’s going to be better than for guys who took a rest,” he said.

Eric Gelinas was recalled from Albany (AHL) and was paired with fellow rookie Jon Merrill.

“I think we know what he can provide offensively,” DeBoer said of Gelinas. "Sometimes you have to take a step back to take two steps forward. Hopefully his time down there is well served and he can potentially help us up here."

Monday's lines:

Dainius Zubrus - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr

Adam Henrique - Patrik Elias - Damien Brunner

Ryane Clowe - Andrei Loktionov - Michael Ryder

Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Jacob Josefson

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne

Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky

Anton Volchenkov - Peter Harrold

Eric Gelinas - Jon Merrill

Martin Brodeur

Cory Schneider

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 49 14 32 3 92 174 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 41 10 16 -2 26
J. Jagr 44 9 16 -11 25
M. Cammalleri 36 15 6 -3 21
P. Elias 38 6 15 -13 21
M. Zidlicky 48 4 16 -8 20
M. Ryder 42 6 12 -2 18
T. Zajac 40 8 8 -6 16
S. Gomez 24 4 12 -6 16
S. Bernier 33 6 7 1 13
M. Havlat 30 5 8 -9 13
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 17 19 4 .921 2.37
K. Kinkaid 1 3 3 .913 2.54