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Elias practices, working way into game shape

by Mike G. Morreale / New Jersey Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils left wing Patrik Elias practiced Saturday for the first time since sustaining a knee injury during training camp.

"Some guys were asking, 'Who's this old guy coming out with us?'" Elias said.

The Devils play the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+). Though Elias, 39, said he feels good, it may take some time before he is in game shape.

"I've been working for a few weeks now, mainly on conditioning and getting the strength back," Elias said. "Then recently I've been picking it up to get some hockey stuff in. This week I've been working with the skills coach, Pertti Hasanen, and it's been great. It's something new to me and it's been hard, but it helps."

Elias said the injury to his right knee had been bothersome the past two seasons but the pain became unbearable following his summer conditioning program.

"It bothered me the last couple of years but not to the point as much as it did after the three weeks of training this summer," Elias said. "I was coming back here and made the decision to treat it, not drastically, but take more time and that's why I took a few weeks off. We did the basics of strengthening, taking care of it by treatment. But I feel much better than I did the end of last year. I can't even compare it to the way I felt when I came in [for training camp] after the summer."

Elias will join the Devils for their three-game road trip that starts Tuesday at the Calgary Flames. He is not expected to play.

"This is as good as I've felt in the last couple of years," he said. "The next step will be to join the guys at a practice, get used to the pace and having guys around me, and the systems."

Elias said he is happy with the success the Devils are having under first-year coach John Hynes. The Devils have won five of their past seven games and are 9-3-0 after starting the season with four straight losses (0-3-1).

"I'm surprised a little bit [with the success]," Elias said. "You never know how it will play out with new people coming in. But the guys seem to be enjoying themselves a little more. When it comes to business and comes to playing, the coaches make sure the work ethic is there. You've seen it. And from what I've heard it was probably the hardest training camp they've had and the hardest practices they've been involved with for a long time.

"I think that type of pace carries into the game and the guys play an up-tempo [style]. There are games when you aren't able to do that but they've found a way to win."

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