Even though the Devils’ playoff chances are finished for 2013, we can still look back at some great moments in New Jersey’s playoff history.
On April 25…
1993- Claude Lemieux scores two goals, and Chris Terreri stopped 30 of 31 shots as New Jersey staved off elimination with a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Patrick Division semifinals at Brendan Byrne Arena. The Devils lost 5-3 in game five and were eliminated by the Pens.
1994- Lemieux posts a four-point game, and John MacLean pots two goals as New Jersey beats the Buffalo Sabres 5-3 in game five of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at the Meadowlands.
The Devils arrived in Winnipeg on Wednesday and held a 1:30 p.m. practice at the arena. As for participants, everyone on the trip took part, including Ryan Carter.
Carter, who has been sidelined by concussion-like symptoms, skated on the fourth line, rotating in and out with Stefan Matteau, Krys Barch, Bobby Butler and recent callup Tim Sestito. The rejiggered fourth line is part of Pete DeBoer’s recent trend of trying new forward combos over the past week in an attempt to wake up the Devils’ slumping offense.
Here are the other line pairings for the day:
The biggest question for me is whether Carter practiced with or without contact. All the Devils would say is that he’s on the trip and that he participated in practice. If he skated with contact, that would pretty much indicate he could return as soon as tomorrow. However, if he’s still restricted, my guess is they’d hold him out at least one more game due to the nature of his injury. We likely won’t know anything more official until tomorrow’s morning skate, which is scheduled for 11:30 a.m.
As for the line combos, this is the second straight day of DeBoer trying Loktionov with Kovy and Henrique, which is a tasty combo in my eyes. I like what I’ve seen of Loktionov offensively thus far and I think this trio could do some damage for a brief time. Eventually, Henrique will likely return to centering a line because that’s where DeBoer is more comfortable playing him. That also means Loktionov is basically destined to return to the fourth line at some point despite his potential. The fact that Loktionov is uncomfortable anywhere other than center is a huge impediment to his playing time because he’s not better than either Henrique or Zajac at this point. The Elias-Zajac-Clarkson line played well at times Sunday and that might be a line that sticks together for the foreseeable future. There’s been a lot of thought along the lines that Henrique is a better fit as Kovy’s center and I like the way Zajac and Elias have meshed when paired together this season. One thing’s for sure, tomorrow’s morning skate should be very interesting.
Greetings from the Prudential Center on this wonderful Thursday morning. The Devils had a morning skate prior to tonight’s game against the New York Islanders, which, believe it or not, is a battle for first place in the Atlantic Division. It’s only been five games, but who woulda thunk that before the season started? Just goes to show the Devils play in the toughest division in hockey.
There were a couple of notable participants in the skate this morning: Adam Henrique and Stefan Matteau. Now, as of press time (10:40ish a.m.), neither player is locked in to playing tonight, or in Matteau’s case, locked in to staying in the NHL this season. Still, in Henrique’s case, it’s a clear sign that he’s as close to returning as he’s been all season. We’ll just have to see if he’s in the lineup tonight.
The Devils defensemen worked on taking shots from the point while the forwards ran dump and support drill that saw one man chase a puck into the corner while the other circled back around the faceoff dot and into the slot. The Devils continue to work on different aspects of their forecheck in every practice I’ve been to, and rightfully so. It’s one of the most important parts of their game — if not the most important.
Unfortunately, I missed the early part of the skate (thanks L train), but here’s the lines from this morning that show Henrique centering the fourth line and Matteau as one of the extra forwards, meaning the Devils likely don’t plan to use him in a sixth game and activate the first year of his entry-level contract.
Via Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice:
Jacob Josefson-Travis Zajac-Ilya Kovalchuk
Dainius Zubrus-Patrik Elias-David Clarkson
Ryan Carter-Stephen Gionta-Steve Bernier
Matt Anderson-Adam Henrique-Krys Barch
Extras: Stefan Matteau, Mathieu Darche.
There were no defensive pairings, but everyone skated. There was no evidence that Adam Larsson will get in the lineup after two losses. Also, expect Martin Brodeur back in net tonight.
Stay tuned for more updates.
The Devils were back at it this morning, preparing for tomorrow’s game against old friend Adam Oates, the new coach of the Washington Capitals.
Here’s today’s forwards with an interesting swap of LWs. I’ll update this thread as we go along today.
UPDATE: Devils did some power play work at the end of practice today after a 1-for-9 start in the first two games under assistant coach Matt Shaw. I missed the line combos, but according to Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice, Elias skated with Clarkson and Zajac on the top unit with Zidlicky and Kovy at the points. The second unit featured Zubrus, Bernier and Josefson with Greene and Tallinder on the points.
UPDATE2: DeBoer said he wasn’t sure if these lines will stick tomorrow. Said he planned to meet with his staff this afternoon and figure it out from there.
Travis Zajac had a full practice with the team today. Zajac was recovering from Achillies tendon surgery he had over the summer in an offseason incident. He is suspected to be in the lineup by Christmas but could be back in the lineup as early as next week.
Ilya Kovalchuk practiced with the team today in Boston. Kovalchuk was skating as an extra forward in the beginning. He also had worked with both power play units playing the left point. The Devils take on the Boston Bruins tonight and it is still unsure if Kovalchuk will be in the lineup tonight.
Again Ilya Kovalchuk missed practice this afternoon. He has been sidelined since November 3rd when he left the game in the 3rd period with what is being called a lower body injury. It was suspected that he may practice today but it did not happen. He is not ruled out for Friday against the Washington Capitals.