by David Pavlak on 09/19/11 at 11:10 PM ET
Right off the bat, head coach Peter DeBoer liked what he saw when Patrik Elias and Zach Parise took the ice together on the first line. His eyes had to of gotten bigger when he saw Ilya Kovalchuk and Jacob Josefson run the second line of offense. Barring any major injuries, the Devils could be boasting a pretty nice looking offensive unit this coming season.
DeBoer told Rich Chere of www.nj.com
“We’ve got some combinations we’re looking at. I think I’d like to keep Elias and Parise together. Josefson and Kovalchuk look pretty good together,” DeBoer said today. “Those are my initial thoughts on seeing some chemistry, but it’s subject to change. You know how lines work. Nothing in stone yet.”
With Josefson, he should be the one to step in for the injuried Travis Zajac, who is recovering from Achilles surgery.
“DeBoer said of Josefson’s chance of stepping in for injured Travis Zajac: “He’s going to get a great opportunity. Travis’ misfortune is obviously other guys’ opportunity. Jo is on that list. So is Adam Henrique and any other centerman in the organization.
“We’ve talked in generalities for lines. I don’t know the group well enough yet to have anything solid. We’ll have to play some games and see where that shakes out.”
With David Clarkson, he has some previous experience with DeBoer. The new head coach had Clarkson on his junior team in Ontario. Clarkson played all 82 games last season and registered 18 points. He is looking to show DeBoer what he can do on the ice, and look for a more permanent role in the lines instead of bouncing around each game.
“I don’t know about an edge. I think he knows what I can do as a player. I’m maybe able to be myself a little more and not worry about making a mistake,” Clarkson said. “I can play like myself. I don’t think I have an edge on anybody. If you’re talking about me bouncing around the lineup, that’s a coach’s decision. Jacques had a lot of people in a lot of different situations. As a player I just had to sit there and deal with the situation. My job is just to go out and play. That’s all you can do. You can’t control who you play with.”
Clarkson played on the right side with Kovalchuk and Josefson on the second line during the Devils squad scrimmage. The lines formulated for the Red and White side are as follows:
Both Martin Brodeur and Bryce Salvador did not play due to lower body stiffness and shouldn’t be anything more then that.
During the scrimmage, Petr Sykora, who was originally a long shot to make the team, certainly stated his case by scoring a hattrick. He played on a line with Dainius Zubrus and Stephane Veillueux.
“I think the strongest part of my game is my shot,” Sykora said. “I think I can really help on the power play. Just get that shot in after rebounds. I’m not a great skater. I was happy I had two fast guys out there with me. You kind of let them go first to the corner. Zubie and Veilleux were so good getting on the puck and digging the pucks out. That’s how they got me the scoring chances sometimes. I wasn’t as lost out there (at center) as much as I thought I was going to be.”
When you’re talking about Sykie, he always has that nose for a goal,” Zubrus said. “He always knows how to get the shot off quickly to surprise goalies. In the high slot he’s as dangerous as anybody. It is only one scrimmage but it was fun.”
DeBoer called Sykora “a very versatile forward” and indicated he wouldn’t necessarily have to make the team as a centerman. All three of his goals came against veteran goalie Johan Hedberg.
Who knows, if Sykora can keep up this type of production, he should easily find his way into a spot for this Devils squad. He could be a third or fourth line center, and could also help out on the powerplay. Time will tell if he is able to keep it up, but things seem to look status quo right now.
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