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Devils looking forward to road trip

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Clarkson's looking to hit the road.
After a disappointing start at home, the Devils are headed south for a three-game road trip that starts Thursday at Tampa Bay.

The two losses to division rivals are over and done with and Jersey's Team is focused on what comes next. Travel, they said, brings them closer together.

"We put those two games behind us, but I think when you get out on the road, you get a bit of team bonding," David Clarkson said after Wednesday's practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion. "You get on the plane together and have some fun. I think it's going to be good for us to get away. You get to know some of the young guys better. I think this is a good time for us to get away, go on the road, play as hard as we can and try to pick up six points."

Jacques Lemaire likes what he's seen from his squad this week, and said his team has continued to improve since dropping the home opener to Philadelphia last Saturday.
"Definitely," Lemaire said. "I think we'll play better and better. There's certain things we have to do more and better. It will come."

The Devils have been based at Prudential Center since start of training camp on Sept. 12 and played only two of their five exhibition games away from home. Escaping that routine will be like hitting the reset button.

"We've been here for a long time," Lemaire said. "The only places we went, we didn't go far: to Philly and the Islanders, then we played here. I think it's the right time; the right moment to go on and hit the road, build up our confidence and regroup."

Lemaire doesn't believe their 0-2-0 record reflects the Devils' overall play so far.

"There's nothing you can do, you have to get back winning and go from there," he said. "The situation we're in, the only thing we can do and control is how we play, the intensity we put into the game, and how sharp we'll be. That's all we control. I think we have to focus on this more than anything else. If you look at the score, you say, 'Hey, a lot of teams ahead, are we going to win?' This is all negative, and I don't see all that negativity as real, in a way, because the team's not playing that bad."

Martin Brodeur welcomes the change of scenery.

"It'll be nice," he said. "The boys have just been practicing hard and playing games, but nothing to try and jell a little bit. It'll be nice to be out together, not just for one day, but six days on the road."

Team activities on the road helps the veterans get to know some of the rookie additions.

"I think that's the beauty of it," Brodeur said. "Just hanging around at a rink that's not yours, everything is there. So you talk to each other a lot more: you're on the bus, you go to restaurants for team meals. We know each other, but we hadn't seen each other for a long time, all summer long. We have a lot of new faces, so definitely it's important."

Lemaire said there "might be" lineup changes for Thursday's game and had yet to decide if Brodeur would start all three games. After Tampa, the Devils visit Florida on Saturday and Washington on Monday. They return home to take on Atlanta next Friday, October 16, followed by Carolina on Saturday, October 17.

• The Devils announced Wednesday that Brendan Shanahan had cleared waivers.

• There was joy among the team's Minnesota natives following the Twins' 6-5, 12-inning win over the Detroit Tigers in Tuesday's play-in game at the Metrodome. The Twins were set to face the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.

"Great game," Paul Martin said. "That was fun to watch, right there."

Minneapolis native Zach Parise watched the entire game from home. Jamie Langenbrunner, also from Minnesota, became playfully surly when Parise was asked about the Twins' chances against the Yankees.

"See, it's just the arrogance of even the media here," Langenbrunner said. "They've already written them off."

Parise chimed in: "Midwest people are a little more humble."

"Sorry we don't have five $20 million pitchers," Langenbrunner said, jokingly. "But we make do."

Martin stopped by Andy Greene's house to see the game, which lasted 4 1/2 hours. Greene, a Michigan native, was rooting for the Tigers.

"I didn't want to rub it in too much because he was pouting," Martin said. "Zach was texting him, so he was getting enough. I didn't want to make it too bad."  

Martin thinks the Twins have a shot against the heavily-favored Bronx Bombers.

"If they can get one of these games (in the Bronx)," he said. "They're resilient. I think they can do it. They don't have the arsenal that the Yankees have or the pitching. Doesn't look good for the Twins, but I have confidence in them."

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