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Day One - Afternoon Session

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Lemaire liked some of what he saw Sunday at training camp. 
He called it a "good first day," but for Jacques Lemaire, the Devils' glass was only half full after Sunday's training camp sessions.

Veterans skated for the first time, and were mixed with the rookies in a morning and an afternoon session.

Lemaire was pleased with the effort and execution in the morning edition, but less satisfied with what he saw in the afternoon.

A new coach with a new system will take some getting used to. Lemaire was confident that Day Two would bring some improvement.

"In one day, half (the team) is doing it right, the other half is not," Lemaire said. "Tomorrow we might get half and a quarter. And then we might get two halves."

The Devils head coach wants to have his group ready to play when they open the preseason at home against the New York Rangers on Wednesday. His short-term goal is to get the players "to play on the same page."

"Get them to do what we want to bring new here, as good as it can be," he continued. "Understand, at first I don't think they'll play as good as it can be in three days. It's going to take a little while. But at least to understand the principles."

Returning players skated in some unconventional line combinations, although Lemaire said his goal was to give the youngsters a chance to skate with NHL regulars.

Travis Zajac, normally between Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner on the Devils' top line, instead centered Vladimir Zharkov and Ilkka Pikkarainen Sunday morning. Parise and Langenbrunner were part of the afternoon group, but skated on opposing teams.

Langenbrunner worked the right side of a line with Rod Pelley in the middle and Brian Rolston on the left; Parise skated at left wing with Patrice Cormier at center and Brendan Shanahan on the right.

"It's only to give a chance to the kids – only for that," Lemaire said. "They'll be back together in no time."

Lemaire offered some insight into what he looks for in a young prospect.

"I just want to see what he's doing," he said. "I want to see him make good decisions with the puck. I want to see him feed the right player on the ice; make a good play offensively. Stuff like that."  

The morning skate featured returning players Martin Brodeur, David Clarkson, Andy Greene, Jay Leach, Jay Pandolfo, Bryce Salvador, Travis Zajac, and Dainius Zubrus, as well as Devils hopefuls Pikkarainen, Niclas Bergfors and goaltender Yann Danis.

In addition to Langenbrunner, Parise, Pelley, Rolston and Shanahan, the afternoon group included Paul Martin, Mike Mottau, Johnny Oduya and Colin White.

"I thought the guys were excited. They were anxious to come back and play," Lemaire said. "Jamie was in good shape, Zach was in good shape, Rolie was working hard – most of the veterans are in good shape for this time of year."

Langenbrunner at Sunday's practice
Langenbrunner acknowledged there are some kinks to work out, but said it's still very early.

"Some first-day sloppiness, but we're starting to get a better idea of the type of system we're going to play," he said. "It's hard to tell. You don't even know some of the names yet for the guys out there. There's a lot of young guys, but it's good to be on the ice and good to get going again."

Langenbrunner, a 13-year vet who made his NHL debut with Dallas in 1994-95, recalled the feeling of being a rookie in training camp.

"Being nervous and scared if I belonged," he said. "I think you find out quickly when you're a young guy that you can play. Obviously the play's happening a little faster than they're used to, but they'll be able to catch up quickly."

On Sunday, skating with Rolston, who played three seasons under Lemaire in Minnesota, Langenbrunner turned to his linemate for some help in getting adjusted to the new methods.

"For me to be playing with Rolie, who played for him for a few years, I definitely used him a little bit in asking questions about how he wants this or how he wants that," Langenbrunner said. "It's a good thing we have three or four weeks to get those things ironed out, that's the important thing. Having it down by today isn't the important thing, having it down by October 3rd is."

• Parise spoke after the scrimmage about a tough first day of skating.

"It was really uptempo, there was a lot of skating," Parise said. "The scrimmage was really tiring."

One of the recurring themes of the first day was Lemaire's ability to teach the game so effectively.

"There's a lot that we can still learn," Parise said. "Even from our first meeting, we watched a lot of video. There were little things, things we could do differently. He'd show us a clip and why it would be better. It all made sense. It's just minor adjustments, but it's great."

Parise had positive words for Patrice Cormier's play while centering their line with Shanahan.

"I think he did a good job," he said. "He wasn't afraid to talk on the bench and ask where we should go or, 'How do you want to this, let's try this this time.' That made it easier for everybody."

• Andrew Peters, who's attending camp on a tryout basis, also skated in the afternoon session.

"He was fine, he worked hard," Lemaire said of Peters. "He knows he's not in shape. I thought he tried hard. If he keeps playing like this he'll get in shape and be even better."

Peters got some cheers from the benches during the afternoon's Red-White scrimmage. He snapped a goal over the shoulder of Mike McKenna from the high slot.

"I just got nice a pass from (Kevin) Cormier, I just cut across the middle and shot it; tried to catch the goalie moving with me to the side and it worked," Peters said. "It went up top and I'm not going to say it was an accident, I'm not going to say it was perfection. I knew what my plan was there."

Can power play time be far behind for the 6-4, 247-lb. bruiser?

"Just a spot would be great," he said. "I'm not picky. It's just nice to possibly have a great place to play."

• Though he said it was a "good fight," Lemaire didn't appear to be a fan of the morning bout between Matt Corrente and Myles Stoesz.

"There'll be time for this," he said, perhaps hinting that fights are better left for exhibition games.

Scrimmage recap
2:22 p.m. – Peters snaps a goal over McKenna's right shoulder from the high slot, prompting some cheers from the benches.

2:16 p.m. – Goaltenders switch again. McKenna, Caruso in.

2:13 p.m. – Break for penalty shots. Langenbrunner uses forehand deke to beat Frazee along the ice, just inside the right post.

2:11 p.m. – Snetsinger (White team) puts home rebound past Frazee.

2:09 p.m. – Paul Martin carries down the right boards and centers to Halischuk, who dangles in on Coleman and flips the puck off Coleman's body and over the goal line.

2:07 p.m. – Coleman and Frazee back in goal.

2:02 p.m. – Swift backhander beats Caruso but hits the left iron and stays out of the net.

2:00 p.m. – Goaltender switch. McKenna in for White, Caruso in for Red. No time being kept on the AmeriHealth Pavilion scoreboard.

1:41 p.m. – Red-White scrimmage underway. Some of the forward lines include, for White: Pelley centering Langenbrunner and Rolston; Swift centering Palmieri and Leblond; Henrique centering Berube and Snetsinger. For Red: Sestito centering Vasyunov and Halischuk; Patrice Cormier centering Parise and Shanahan; Nagy centering Peters and Kevin Cormier.  

On defense, for White: White and Mottau/Cohen; Robitaille and Taormina. For Red: Martin and Oduya/Davison; Delahey and Young

Coleman in goal for White, Frazee for Red.

1:26 p.m. – Skaters off the ice for a resurfacing following a half-hour skate.

1:15 p.m. – Today's second session got underway at 1 p.m. Skaters are separated into either Red or White.

The goaltenders are Dave Caruso, Gerald Coleman, Jeff Frazee and Mike McKenna. 

On defense for Red is Rob Davison, Matt Delahey, Johnny Oduya, Paul Martin and Harry Young. At forward are: Kevin Cormier, Patrice Cormier, Matt Halischuk, Kory Nagy, Zach Parise, Andrew Peters (wearing 25), Tim Sestito, Brendan Shanahan, Alexander Vasyunov.

Skating for White, on defense: Matt Cohen, Mike Mottau, Louis Robitaille, Matt Taormina and Colin White. At forward: Jean-Sebastien Berube, Adam Henrique, Jamie Langenbrunner, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, Nick Palmieri, Rod Pelley, Brian Rolston, Brad Snetsinger and Michael Swift.

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