Jacques Lemaire wound up on the losing end of Monday's Red-White scrimmage, but hopes to get even in the rematch.
Lemaire's White squad, featuring the veteran forwards, lost, 4-1, to a Red team that was anchored by the veteran defensemen and goaltenders, Martin Brodeur
and Yann Danis.
Alexander Vasyunov, Niclas Bergfors and Andrew Peters scored for Red, which also got an empty-netter from Matt Halischuk. Zach Parise
netted the lone goal for White, which was backstopped by Jeff Frazee
and Gerald Coleman.
"My first loss today," Lemaire said.
The head coach acknowledged that when it comes down to experienced forwards against experienced blueliners, "Defense wins."
"I thought I would be fine with the forwards, but that's not enough," he said.
The game was scoreless after the first 30-minute half. Vasyunov, Bergfors and Peters (PP) put Red on top, 3-0, with 4:49 left in the second running-time half. Parise cut it to 3-1 with 3:25 remaining and Coleman out of the net. Halischuk responded with an empty-netter to quickly restore the three-goal lead.
Lemaire won't switch teams for Tuesday's rematch. Assistants Mario Tremblay and Scott Stevens worked with the vet blueliners.
"This will be interesting," Lemaire said.
Having trimmed his training camp roster to 42 players on Sunday, Lemaire was reluctant to reveal which youngsters have stood out to him so far. But if line combos were any indication of which prospects Lemaire's watching, then Michael Swift centering Jay Pandolfo and David Clarkson
was tough to ignore.
"There's a few," he said. "The thing is, some of them will play, and I wouuldn't like to put names there that won't play. Then you start to say that this kid is good, and (you hear) 'Why did the other kid have a game, and I didn't?' But you could see them there, very well in this practice, you could see the kids that are above the other ones. You could see it very easily."
Asked about Swift, Lemaire demurred.
"I will pass for now," he said.
Given the Devils' roster openings, it's natural to speculate which prospects stand a chance at making the big club. But Lemaire was hesitant to specifically discuss players still fighting for NHL jobs.
"I can't comment on all the kids, that wouldn't be good," he said. "Because the NHL is there, and the American League is there. You have kids that are here, and it's going to take a year or two to get there or to be in-between. Maybe play a few games and drop. Some of them will never get past where they are right now."
Peters' goal was noteworthy. He took a Bergfors pass and fired a wrister over Coleman's shoulder from the left circle. Lemaire said the 6-4, 240-lb. left wing will see preseason action when the Devils visit Long Island on Wednesday and Philadelphia on Thursday.
"I think he's getting in shape," he said. "He was not in good shape when he first came in. But he's been working hard and you can tell now he's skating a lot better. He looks OK. I like what he did today. I like how he played."
Lemaire added that Peters' overall game has shown improvement in the week since camp opened. Peters, attending on a tryout, has not yet signed.
"Not only that, he's skating up, he's coming back, playing his position," he said. "Taking the man when he has to. He's getting there."
• Pandolfo, who skated with Swift, had positive words for his linemate.
"He's smart hockey player, good two ways," Pandolfo said. "He's a smaller guy, but he's good at both ends of the ice."
Never drafted, Swift signed with New Jersey on April 28, 2008. He made his pro debut last season with Lowell, compiling 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points in 52 games.
Said Pandolfo: "It's nice to see kids coming from within the organization with a chance to play."
• Leblond was sick and did not skate Monday.
"He wanted to come on, and we told him, 'Go back home,'" Lemaire said.
12:32p – Corrente flattens Zharkov at the blue line as the buzzer sounds to close out Red's 4-1 victory. White finished with a 30-18 advantage in shots.
12:26p – Zajac sets up Parise to put White on the board, 3-1. Zajac drew a defender and passed to in front to Parise, who shoveled it past Danis into a wide-open net with 3:25 left. White pulled Coleman again for an extra attacker, but Halischuk quickly made it 4-1 Red with an empty-netter.
12:23p – Peters (PP) beats Coleman up high from the left circle with 4:49 remaining for a 3-0 Red lead. Bergfors set him up off the rush.
12:14p – Bergfors beats Coleman on rebound for a 2-0 Red lead with 13:00 remaining.
12:13p – Goalies change.
12:10p – Vasyunov rebound goal beats Frazee at about the 14-minute mark to make it 1-0 Red.
12:09p – 17:00 left in second half…still scoreless, White outshooting Red 22-11.
11:12a – Monday's Red and White split-squad scrimmage was tied after one 30-min. running-time period, with White holding a 16-6 lead in shots. Both teams changed goalies midway through the frame.
Lines are, for White:
Defensemen: Leach, Greene, Eckford, Magnan-Grenier, Davison, Gelinas, Fraser, Corrente, Urbom.
In goal: Frazee and Coleman
In goal: Brodeur and Danis
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond is not skating.