|The New Jersey Devils made a bold move in an effort to turn their season around in December of 2010, firing then-head coach John MacLean two days before Christmas and replacing him with 65-year-old Jacques Lemaire. Lemaire, who had been retired after spending over nine years as head coach of the Minnesota Wild, returned for his second tour of duty behind the Devils bench and guided them to the best record in the NHL the rest of the way. |
It wasn’t enough to make the Stanley Cup playoffs - and for GM Lou Lamoriello, that wasn’t good enough. Lemaire announced he would not return for another season, meaning the Devils would be led by their third head coach in less than 12 months. Lamoriello hired Peter DeBoer, who had just been let go by the Florida Panthers to help get the Devils back on track. So far, so good for DeBoer, who has a healthy Zach Parise in the lineup and a consistent Ilya Kovalchuk producing offense. However, with those two stars on the roster, it’s the wily veteran Patrik Elias leading New Jersey in scoring (8-11-19). That total is eight points more than the next Devils player.
New Jersey’s group of forwards will not be accused of being dynamic, yet always finds a way to be effective. Players like David Clarkson (7 goals) and 35-year-old Petr Sykora (4 goals) have contributed on the scoresheet to help offset the void left by injured No. 1 center Travis Zajac, who has not played a game yet this season. Recently called-up Adam Henrique has stepped right into the Devils lineup and registered 11 points in 16 games, making DeBoer and Lamoriello sleep easier without Zajac in the middle.
The Devils’ blue line got a youthful addition over the summer when 18-year-old Adam Larsson made the club out of training camp. Larsson, selected by New Jersey with the fourth overall pick in the 2011 Entry Draft, has become an all-purpose defenseman for DeBoer and averages between 20-23 minutes a night. He is supported by veterans Henrik Tallinder, Bryce Salvador, Anton Volchenkov and Andy Greene – a group that has accumulated just 25 total points among the six defensemen.
While offense has never been the trademark of the Devils franchise (currently 20th in the NHL in goals per game), they play a sound defensive game and get quality goaltending. Johan Hedberg owns more starts (11) and wins (6) than his partner Martin Brodeur, who needs no introduction as one of the greatest goaltenders of all-time.
| || || |
|Prospal (6) ||Elias (8) |
|Prospal (12) ||Elias (11) |
|Prospal (18) ||Elias (19) |
|Dorsett (62) ||Clarkson (41) |
|MacKenzie (+3) ||Three tied (+2) |
|Sanford (2-0-1) |
|Hedberg (6-4-1) |
|Sanford (1.46) ||Hedberg (2.45) |
|Sanford (.943) ||Hedberg (.914) || |
|• Columbus has won back-to-back games for the first time since winning three-straight Feb. 18-25, 2011, a span of 42 games. The Jackets picked up their first road point in a shootout loss at Boston last Thursday and notched their first road win at Nashville on Saturday. |
• Jeff Carter scored his first goal as a Blue Jacket Saturday at Nashville in his ninth game with the club. It was his first goal in 12 games as he last scored Apr. 1, 2011 at New Jersey with the Philadelphia Flyers. He has goals in back-to-back games after scoring two Monday against Calgary. It was his first multi-goal game since Mar. 15, 2011 at Florida (with the Flyers), a span of 22 games.
• Tonight marks the lone meeting this season between the Blue Jackets and Devils. Columbus is 3-7-1 all-time against New Jersey, including a 0-3-1 mark at Prudential Center. Not counting Winnipeg, as Columbus has not played a game at MTS Centre, New Jersey is one of two cities in which the Blue Jackets have not won a game (Philadelphia).
• The Devils enter tonight's game following a 4-3 loss Monday night at Florida. Monday’s decision snapped the club’s two-game winning streak and gave them a 3-2-0 mark on its just-completed season-long five-game road trip. The team owns a 6-3-0 mark in its last nine decisions.
LW - #9
• The 27-year-old native of Minneapolis was named the Devils’ ninth captain on September 5, 2011, a year removed playing just 13 games due to injury. Last season was the only health hurdle Parise has faced, playing in all 19 games this season and missing just three other games since making his debut in 2005.
• Parise starred for Team USA at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver (4 goals, 4 assists in six games) and is a four-time 30-goal scorer in the NHL. His presence was sorely missed by the Devils, who needed another offensive threat alongside Kovalchuk.
LW Kristian Huselius (upper body); indefinitely
D Radek Martinek (concussion); indefinitely
G Steve Mason (upper body); day-to-day