Tuesday's optional practice focused on fine-tuning some basic skills such as shots from the point and redirections in front of the net. Most importantly, however, Lemaire wanted to give his squad a breather after Monday's 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers.
"It breaks the routine of practicing and having to do drills," Lemaire said. "Guys like that."
The Devils (0-2-0) are still looking for their first win of 2009-10 after dropping their first two games on home ice. Lemaire said his players have maintained a positive outlook.
"I think it's important at this point that if anyone would have any doubts or anything on their mind, or would think a little negatively – which I don't see, but anything you have in the back of your mind because we haven't won a game yet – this breaks it," he said.
The top line of Zach Parise
(19:26), Travis Zajac
(22:45) and captain Jamie Langenbrunner (22:44) logged heavy minutes on Monday, earning a day off. They were among those players who came in for off-ice workouts.
"I was very pleased with the Travis line, how they played," Lemaire said. "Very pleased."
"ZZ Pops" has started to simmer. Zajac scored a power-play goal against the Rangers and Langenbrunner had a shorthanded tally in the 5-2 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday. Parise, who led the Devils with 45 goals last season, has yet to light the lamp but collected an assist on Zajac's goal.
"To me, they're playing better and better," Lemaire said. "I think they know, too. They've started to see each other the way they saw each other last year. They played well."
Rob Niedermayer had the Devils' first marker versus the Rangers, and has gotten a positive reception since signing with one game remaining on the exhibition schedule. Niedermayer has jumped into the lineup and performed effectively despite an abbreviated training camp.
"It is surprising," Lemaire said. "But then again, his game, right now, we use him more on a defensive role, which is easier than (what) the Travis line (does). He doesn't come into the game thinking he's got to get two goals tonight or, 'I haven't scored for two games,' as an example.
"He comes in, 'I have to do my job in the sense that I have to be really good defensively,' and do the things that he's doing every night. Then, on top of that, he gets a chance and scores? It's a huge, huge plus."NJD NOTES
There are enough Minnesota and Michigan natives on the team to make for an entertaining discussion about today's play-in game between the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins.
The Minnesotans – Langenbrunner, Parise and Paul Martin – all said they hoped to watch the 5 p.m. ET start, while the Michiganders – Andy Greene
and Brian Rolston – were ready to cheer on their Tigers.
The Tigers and Twins finished with identical 86-76 records in the American League Central. Today's winner will take the division and earn a playoff date with the Yankees.
First, there was the matter of figuring out where to watch.
"Jamie's usually busy because he has kids running around," Martin said. "Maybe I'll go over to Greener's. Maybe I'll wait a couple of innings first to see what the score is and decide if I head over to rub it in or not."
Langenbrunner said he would try to see the contest, but had to drop his kids off at hockey practice.
Parise took batting practice at the Metrodome in August, and laughed off the suggestion that the Twins might've learned a thing or two from watching him swing the bat. He has been seen wearing a Twins cap on his way out of the Devils' locker room.
"I'm just going to be glued to the TV and maybe get some takeout," Parise said. "It's going to be a good one."
Homefield advantage could tip the scales in Minny's favor, he said.
"The 'Dome's a tough place to win for a road team," said Parise, explaining how additional seating sections are made available for big games.
Greene, however, wasn't sold.
"It's going to be left up to a gimmicky dome," Greene said. "It'll be interesting though. I'll turn it on maybe about the third inning to see how it's goes and decide from there whether I can watch it or not.
But Parise wouldn't rub in a Twins victory, would he?
"Definitely," he said.
• Patrik Elias
skated on his own early Tuesday as he continues to recover from a procedure to break up scar tissue in his groin. It was announced on Sept. 16 that he would miss three to six weeks.
• Martin skated with the team Tuesday and said he was feeling better as practice went along following Monday's knee-on-knee collision with Chris Drury.
"At first it was a weird feeling," Martin said of the play. "It was like a stinger with some numbness at first. It was weird, then it kind of went away after a little bit. Then it was just stiff for awhile, so I hadn't really had anything like that before. It wasn't painful, it was more of an awkward feeling."
• Mark Fraser skated with the team for the first time since sustaining a head-area injury in a preseason game at Philadelphia on Sept. 24.
"To be honest, I felt OK," Fraser said. "It was, like I said before, I little bit of a precaution and they wanted to get me checked out by a doctor to make sure everything was OK. To be honest, a pretty quick recovery."
12:24p - D-men group of Mottau-Martin-Salvador going D to D for a shot on Danis with Clarkson in front for redirections.
12:20p - Jacques Lemaire and Tommy Albelin working with D on collecting bank passes at the point and putting a shot on Yann Danis. Mario Tremblay working with gray and white on neutral-zone puck possession along the boards. Scott Stevens with red and group of d-men working on give-and-go passes at the blue line followed by a slapshot on Martin Brodeur
from either point.
12:04 p - Team has finished warming up for this afternoon's practice and is stretching at center ice.
Defenseman Mark Fraser is skating today. He has been out of the lineup since suffering an upper body injury during a preseason contest at Philadelphia on Sept. 24.
Ilkka Pikkarainen, Rod Pelley, David Clarkson
Brian Rolston, Niclas Bergfors, Matt Halischuk in red.
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond and Andrew Peters are wearing white, along with Fraser and Andy Greene
Defensemen wearing black: Mike Mottau, Johnny Oduya, Cory Murphy, Paul Martin, Bryce Salvador
Goaltenders Martin Brodeur
and Yann Danis.