A grueling schedule that has opened with six of the first seven games on the road has the Devils still searching for their first win of 2013-14.
Martin Brodeur expected this type of challenge in the early going, especially with last week's four-game swing through Western Canada. But the feeling after Tuesday's practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion is that one victory could get things back on track
The Devils (0-3-3) will skate again in Newark on Wednesday before closing out their season-high five-game road trip Thursday in Ottawa.
"We knew the first month, month and a half was going to be hard because of that type of scheduling that we have," Brodeur said. "We need to just get one win, get the first win and go from there. Everybody's anxious. We all know we can do it. It's just a matter of getting it done."
Sunday's loss in Winnipeg ended an eight-day tour with stops in Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary. After a day off on Monday, the Devils were finally back on familiar ice again.
"It was nice," head coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think you come back, you get to regroup a little bit. We watched some video, we had a good practice, and now we've got to translate it into a win on Thursday."
DeBoer adjusted his lines in the absence of Ryane Clowe (rest), who did not practice.
Adam Henrique centered Patrik Elias and Jaromir Jagr, while Mattias Tedenby slid into the left side on a line with Travis Zajac and Michael Ryder. Andrei Loktionov skated between Dainius Zubrus and Damien Brunner, and Ryan Carter (upper body), who has missed the last three games with upper body soreness, was back on the fourth line with Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier. Jacob Josefson and Rostislav Olesz were the extra forwards.
"We've got some new faces and we're still trying to find some chemistry: who plays well with who, who looks good with who," DeBoer said. "Some position stuff: is Elias better at the middle or on the wing, is Henrique better on the wing. There's some different things that we're juggling with here. We split in exhibition games pretty much almost two teams until the last game. These first five or six games we're kind of working through that process."
Tedenby, an injured non-roster player, could be available soon.
"From a health point of view, I think he's definitely getting close to being an option," DeBoer said.
The coach noted that his squad has been "a little loose," and needs to be "a harder team to play against."
Said DeBoer: "I think we know what we have to do to get it fixed, it's just going out and getting that job done. I don't think anybody's loose and happy about where we're at, but I don't sense that anybody's squeezing the stick. We're all looking for answers. I think we know what the answers are: it's getting the jobs done."
Jaromir Jagr has seen the Devils let leads slip away despite stretches in which they dominated opponents. It's a trend he hopes to end.
"There's some games when you play better than the other team and you lose, or it can be the other way around," Jagr said. "These are the kinds of the things you can't really control. Over 80 games, it's going to be equal. You win some games you shouldn't and lose some games you shouldn't. You just have to work hard and believe in the things you do. That's the only thing you can control: work hard and make sure you're better than you were yesterday."