|Clarkson ready to roll for 2009-10. |
Just a week remains before the curtain goes up on the Devils' 2009-10 regular season; seven days until the puck drops on the home opener against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 3.
There are two games left on the exhibition schedule, including tonight's meeting with the Flyers at Prudential Center (7 p.m., streaming on WFAN.com).
The players are revved up and raring to go.
"It's exciting," Clarkson said following Saturday's morning skate. "It's something that you wish was here today – I wish we were starting tonight, to be honest with you. I wish this was the first game and we were getting the ball rolling. We just have to go out there and do well in these games to show where you fit in for that Game One."
It's a chance for some final tweaks before the the 82-game marathon officially gets underway.
"You're just trying to get the little things back," he said. "By now you should have them, but there's still a difference between practice shape and game shape. So I think getting into game shape, getting into game situations where you make reads, I think we're all still getting into that. That's what exhibition's all about."
While practice conditions can't match those of game play, the pace of the exhibition isn't unlike that of the regular season. Prospects still in training camp after two rounds of cuts remain eager to compete for unfilled roster spots.
"It's pretty similar because there's guys battling for positions in preseason; guys battling for where they're going to fit in the lineup," he said. "It is pretty high-tempo, but once the season starts, there isn't as much running around. It's more positional when everybody plays."
The preseason's valuable even for a veteran like Brendan Shanahan.
"Guys are ready, but at the same time, we haven't played a lot of exhibition games," said Shanahan, who's entering his 22nd NHL season. "I think guys are putting a lot of importance on these next two games, as far as just sharpening up. Lots of teams have played seven, eight, nine games already, and we've played three."
Shanahan feels the Devils' five-game slate was ideal. The club wraps up the schedule at home against the Islanders on Tuesday.
"I think it's always good to play at least four games," he said. "Every player feels they could use anywhere between three and five games."
Now, the starting line has finally come into view.
"You get nerves and start thinking about how the season's going to develop," Shanahan said. "I think the mood and the manner changes for the whole team."
This morning's lines:Zach Parise
-Travis Zajac-Jamie Langenbrunner
Brian Rolston-Dainius Zubrus-David Clarkson
Niclas Bergfors-Tim Sestito-Brendan Shanahan
Andrew Peters-Rod Pelley-Jay Pandolfo
Defensemen were: Andy Greene
, Jay Leach
, Colin White, Bryce Salvador
, Johnny Oduya, Paul Martin.
Forward Matt Halischuk and defenseman Cory Murphy also skated this morning, but will not play tonight, Jacques Lemaire said.Martin Brodeur
is expected to start, with Yann Danis handling backup duties.Morning skate
10:10a – As the Devils' preseason winds down to its final two games, it's worth noting which players are seeing ice time. Jersey's Team hosts the Philadelphia Flyers tonight at 7 p.m., then plays the exhibition finale Tuesday against the Islanders.
Today's morning skate features Zach Parise
-Travis Zajac-Jamie Langebrunner; Brian Rolston-Dainius Zubrus-David Clarkson; Niclas Bergfors-Tim Sestito-Brendan Shanahan; Andrew Peters-Rod Pelley-Jay Pandolfo/Matt Halischuk.
Defensemen are: Andy Greene
, Jay Leach
, Cory Murphy, Colin White, Bryce Salvador
, Johnny Oduya, Paul Martin.
Goaltenders are Martin Brodeur
and Yann Danis.
Not skating are forwards Olivier Magnan-Grenier, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, Ilkka Pikkarainen, and Vladimir Zharkov
; defensemen Mike Mottau, Mark Fraser, and Rob Davison. Also not skating is recent acquistion Rob Niedermayer, who will join the team on Monday.