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Back in the fold

Olympians return for first full practice since start of break

Monday, 02.24.2014 / 4:16 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Back in the fold



 
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 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
8 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
9 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
L. Stempniak 53 15 24 7 39
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
K. Palmieri 53 20 15 3 35
A. Henrique 51 17 16 14 33
T. Zajac 45 7 18 6 25
D. Schlemko 45 6 9 -9 15
A. Larsson 53 2 11 12 13
D. Severson 50 1 12 0 13
A. Greene 53 4 6 2 10
J. Josefson 42 3 7 -13 10
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 23 15 6 .929 2.03
K. Kinkaid 3 5 1 .909 2.52
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