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Lemaire seeking rookie revival

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
To try and get a little more jump out of his Devils, Jacques Lemaire has added a couple of youngsters to tonight’s lineup.

Both Patrick Davis and Nick Palmieri, recalled yesterday from Lowell (AHL), will be in action tonight when Jersey’s Team hosts the Florida Panthers. The Devils are trying to avoid losing four in a row for the first time this season.

“A little life, a little intensity,” Lemaire said this morning when asked what he expects. “I don’t know them a lot. I saw them at camp. Davis is a good skater. Palmieri is good with the puck. We’ll see.”

Lemaire declined to say who would come out of the lineup, though Andrew Peters and Ilkka Pikkarainen skated on a line with Dainius Zubrus. It was Zubrus’ first team practice in two months since he was injured blocking a shot at Nashville on 19. No timetable has been announced for his return.

The Devils’ head coach framed the lineup changes as a wake-up call.

“What it tells you is, you get a chance to play, you have to get ready to play,” he said. “If you’re not playing where expected, you have to expect someone will take your job.”

Lemaire wasn’t entirely satisfied with his team’s energy level at the morning skate, which ended early.

“There’s a lot of things not going right,” he said. “But it’s how to fix them. You know what’s going wrong. It’s how to fix it and how long it’s going to take.”

A few things Lemaire hopes to improve: his team has seven goals in its last six games; has not scored in its last 19 power-play chances; and has fallen behind 2-0 in the first periods of its last three outings.

Lemaire admitted he’s surprised by the recent dip, which followed the best first-half start in franchise history. He indicated that key players have logged big minutes in the wake of injuries, and all that extra ice time could be taking its toll.

“They could be a little tired, that’s for sure,” he said. “You take as an example Bergy (Niclas Bergfors). Lately he hasn’t produced, but he’s trying. You can wish for maybe a little more quickness; the quickness that he had before, his choice of shots. If you go on and take every player, that’s the way it is. Our position’s not as good because we’re not as sharp. Sometimes we try to cheat. It’s all this that you have to put back together.”

Lemaire believes hard work in practice can right the ship.

“You’re asking for more intensity and if they don’t get it in the practice, they won’t get it in the game,” he said. “You’re trying to push it so they get it in practice so they bring it in the game.”

He’s confident, however, that his squad can get back on track. They host Montreal Friday, then visit Long Island on Saturday.

“They will,” he said. “I’m trying to cut down on the time it’s going to take. That’s what I’m trying to cut down. Because when you see it coming, you try to stop it early. Sometimes you do not.”

Martin Brodeur will make his 27th straight start for the Devils tonight. … Vladimir Zharkov missed this morning’s skate with a lower body injury.

This morning’s forward lines:
Parise - Zajac - Bergfors
Rolston - McAmmond - Langenbrunner
Pandolfo - Niedermayer - Davis
Leblond - Pelley - Palmieri
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