The New Jersey Devils will be facing a winless and increasingly desperate Washington Capitals team Friday night at Prudential Center.
Martin Brodeur is expected to be in net as the Devils try to improve to 3-0. Brodeur has allowed just one goal in his first two starts and that is not the kind of goaltending the 0-3-0 and playing every bit as poorly as the record indicates.
"I would say some of our mistakes are pure effort," said Adam Oates, the former New Jersey assistant coach now experiencing how frustrating life as a head coach can be. "It's very upsetting. I'm not pushing the panic button, but obviously it's upsetting. … You've got to really want to do it."
“Embarrassing is almost the right term right now. Pathetic is probably a better one,” Washington right wing Troy Brouwer told reporters after Thursday night's loss to Montreal. “You know, I feel bad for the fans. I’d like to finish a game with at least 50 percent of the fans still in the stands. Their reaction is completely warranted — booing us. We haven’t earned any respect. We haven’t earned any of their passion, their ambition.
“We’ve got to turn something around, and we’ve got to do it fast. … We’ve got to find a way to get some enthusiasm, get some passion in our game right now.”
So, welcome to Newark, Washington Capitals.
The Devils would be wise to listen to those words because the Capitals are increasingly desperate and can't be overlooked. A solid effort, like those displayed against the Islanders and Flyers would be the ticket to a 3-0 start. Anything less against a team searching for a break could come back to haunt them.
For his part, Devils coach Pete DeBoer has been trying to keep his team fresh and engaged, so there is the possibility that some new line combinations could be seen tonight. In practice Thursday, Mattias Tedenby moved to the top line as the left wing for center Travis Zajac and right wing Ilya Kovalchuk, while Dainius Zubrus played the left side with Patrik Elias and David Clarkson.
“We did that today,” DeBoer told reporters. “I’m not sure what we’ll go with tomorrow, yet. That’s definitely not in stone, but that’s what we decided to do today.”
According to the Bergen Record's Tom Gulitti, the goal here is to get Tedenby on track, a first-round pick in 2008 who has yet to establish himself as an NHL player.
“I guess what I’m looking for is consistency in his game,” DeBoer said. “His effort is always there. You never get a B level effort out of him, but you’re looking for that consistency at both ends of the rink where a coach trusts putting you on the ice on a regular basis.”
Kovalchuk was effusive in his praise of Tedenby when quizzed by Gulitti.
"He’s a great player,” Kovalchuk said. “It’s easy to play with him and he’ll be excited. He can do stuff that other players can’t. We’ve just got to talk and make him really comfortable. He’s a great person as well and can help you anywhere.”
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