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Devils' Henrique feels ready for leadership role

by Mike G. Morreale / New Jersey Devils
Devils forward Adam Henrique knows life in and around the locker room will have a different feel this season without Martin Brodeur.

There's still plenty of veteran leadership to go around, and Henrique hopes to be a part of that group.

"I was lucky to be able to play with the guys I did my first year [2011-12]; I came in and made sure I did the right things," Henrique said. "To learn from that group was key to my development, and I feel I've become more of a leader in the room since then and that's the direction I want to continue to take."

Center Travis Zajac believes Henrique can assume a leadership role within the locker room.

"He's been around now, has experienced the Stanley Cup Final, has played in different situations and knows what's expected of himself and this team," Zajac said. "He's going to be a guy we will count on to provide some leadership on and off the ice."

The departure of Brodeur leaves Patrik Elias, Andy Greene, Marek Zidlicky, Jaromir Jagr, Zajac and captain Bryce Salvador as the core group that will continue to provide the veteran moxie needed to succeed on a nightly basis.

"I'm excited about the direction of the team," Henrique said. "Mike [Cammalleri] should hopefully help us score more goals and help our power play and top line. Marty [Havlat] knows a few of the guys and will add more presence and depth to our team."

Henrique said that being able to roll four lines consistently is no longer a luxury but a necessity for success in the League.

"We've wanted to roll all four lines the last couple of years in order to wear teams down, but with players leaving and then injuries, it's been difficult," Henrique said. "The year we went to the Stanley Cup Final [2011-12] we were able to roll four lines and get production from all those lines, even the third- and fourth-line players. That's something you can never overlook."

Henrique believes DeBoer has done a fine job in preparing the team each night and that it's up to the players to commit and exhibit the confidence needed in executing that plan.

"[DeBoer] takes control and the guys respect him as a coach; he's a player's coach," Henrique said. "He knows when to push the buttons and when to back off, and I'm certainly glad he's still here. The guys want to win for him."

Henrique said players have been itching to get 2014-15 started after missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. In addition to the team's lack of scoring at 5-on-5 last season, the 0-13 record in shootouts didn't help either.

"It seemed to be the Achilles of our team last season," Henrique said of the shootouts. "I think it kept piling up every loss. On the bench you begin thinking that we have to win in overtime. If it wasn't the goalie getting hot or someone hitting the post, it was something else and we just couldn't shake it. With [Cammalleri] coming in maybe we can turn that around."

Henrique also feels having goalie Cory Schneider as the undisputed No. 1 will help his and the team's confidence.

"Cory was great for us last season, but we hung him out to dry when he kept us in a lot of games," Henrique said. "We just couldn't get him a goal and then when Marty [Brodeur] would start, we'd score four or five goals."

The Devils scored 1.5 goals for every 60 minutes that Schneider was in net in 2013-14. Despite that, he finished with a .921 save percentage and was third in the NHL with a 1.97 goals-against average.

"Last year we had a disappointing start to the season and I think that really got us in the end as well," Henrique said. "I think we had a playoff-caliber team; we certainly weren't far off. We've got young guys coming up challenging for spots and that's great, but at the same time we're still bringing in veteran guys to lead the way. I think we're going to be able to turn things around this season."

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