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New Jersey Devils Looking to Make up for Parise, Sykora’s Lost Goals

January 15th, 2013 at 1:40 AM
By Philip Coffey

Funny line from Devils head coach Pete DeBoer Monday about how his new coaching staff are adjusting to one another.

With Adam Oates now the head man in Washington and Larry Robinson an assistant with the San Jose Sharks, DeBoer and new assistants Matt Shaw and Scott Stevens only have a couple scrimmages under their belts, but they did have a lot of time to bond during the lockout.

“Four months of sitting there staring at each other waiting for a game to play, we’ve gotten pretty familiar with each other, so there’s no adjustment,” DeBoer said.

One of the things the three coaches undoubtedly talked about was replacing Zach Parise and Petr Sykora's offensive games. Parise, of course, bolted to the Minnesota Wild and the Devils opted not to re-sign Sykora. Between them, that's 52 goals that need to be replaced.

The hope is Jacob Josefson, Adam Henrique and perhaps Mattias Tedenby will be able to take their games up another notch or two. Another possibility is Bobby Butler, a free-agent signed over the summer.

Perhaps the most obvious candidate to increase the team's offense this season is hiding in plain sight, the now healthy Travis Zajac.

Zajac suffered through a frustrating 2011-12 season thanks to Achillies tendon surgery that cost him the start of the season and then was slow to heal, requiring him to shut his game down for another long stretch. He had just two goals in 15 regular-season games, but had seven in 24 playoff games, so he could be a big help in the goals department.

“We’re going to have to do it collectively,” Zajac told Tom Canavan of the Associated Press. “I don’t think it’s going to be one guy that is going to replace Zach. Those are awfully big shoes to fill and I don’t know if we’ll find the player to replace him. With this team, we’ve dealt with that before — losing some big pieces — and we found a way to overcome it. We’ll have to do that collectively again.

“I had a strong playoff and I think this is a big year for me,” Zajac said. “It’s a chance where I can hopefully take my game to another level. I have had some extra time to work on things and I am excited to get that chance and help the team in any way possible.”

The jury is still out on Tedenby, a former first-round pick who hasn't thrived at the NHL level. He had one goal in 43 games last season, but had nine goals in 30 games with the AHL's Albany Devils this season.

“Right now, I am playing with a bigger confidence than I had last year when they sent me down,” said Tedenby, still only 22. “I started off the season pretty bad last year and I didn’t find the way to play the right way. It was a new system. It was the same system in Albany and now I don’t need to think. I just do it. That’s probably the biggest difference.”

Butler, 25, is an interesting player to watch. As a rookie with Ottawa two seasons ago, he scored 10 goals in 36 games, but slumped to just six last season in 56 games and wasn't re-signed by the Senators.


Tags: Hockey, New Jersey, New Jersey Devils, NHL

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