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Q&A with John from Devils blog In Lou We Trust


Tonight's game against the Devils is the first regular season matchup of the season between the two teams.  As mentioned earlier in the Devils' scouting report, New Jersey is off to a pretty strong start on the road, undefeated in fact at 4-0.  To get a better look at what the Pens may be up against tonight, I asked John from In Lou We Trust to shed a little light on the Pens' division rival.  You can check out my response to John's questions over at ILWT

(PS - John insisted on answering these questions in red.  I was happy to oblige.)

1. The Devils are 4-0 on the road heading into Pittsburgh.  Any concerns this one might register in the loss column?

Definitely.  The Devils have played exactly one complete, consistent game of hockey this season and that was a 2-0 win over Carolina last Saturday.  A game won by a fluke redirection off of Langenbrunner's body and an empty net goal.  Sure, Brodeur and the defense was more than fine in that one; but it's not a smart game to fully emulate.   While the Devils started off well on Thursday against the Rangers, they lost the plot in the second period, and had to battle hard to re-take the lead in the third. I know full well Pittsburgh's too good of a team to keep the game close if they equalize or go up early against New Jersey. They're the best team in the league and so the game tonight is really more of a measuring stick for the Devils rather than a must-win contest.   

2. How is life for the Devils (and fans) under Jacques Lemaire's second reign?

So far, so good.  Lemaire and the team is still improving bit by bit and so Lemaire is still shifting players on the forward lines to find the best combination. The only major complaints about the team in terms of performance under Lemaire has been their awful power play which hasn't scored since...their win over Florida a few weeks ago? I'm not even sure anymore, that's how long ago it was; and that the team had a 4 game streak of taking a too-many-men on the ice call per game.  In terms of how the team plays, it's similar to how Brent Sutter ran the Devils, only Lemaire is actually more aggressive.  He's giving the defensemen more responsibility to carry the puck, lead the breakout, and even pinch and go down low on offense when the opportunity presents itself.  While the power play has been lackluster, Lemaire has been putting 4 forwards on the top unit and, in a few cases, 5 forwards. 

I think once this team hits it's groove and gets Elias back, I think we'll see a lot more success and more to praise about the Devils.

3. David Clarkson had a solid preseason and is already off to a strong six point (2g, 4a) start.  How big is his role with the team and do you think he's on pace to outdo last season's totals (17g, 15a)?

His role, like many of the wingers, is a bit in flux; but I know the Devils are big on Clarkson in general.  He's getting time on the first power play unit; he's been playing on the second and third lines with an occasional game on the fourth line, but he's going forward and right to the net.  Clarkson has even shown more patience with the puck to set up his linemates, hence his 4 assists so far.  Once Elias returns, I think his spot - like many others - will be better defined; but I think Clarkson will have his best season yet.  You can tell his offensive game is more refined than just - "I'm behind the net, I better wrap this around." 
4. How much are the Devils missing Patrick Elias right now?

The team has proven so far this season that they can win without Elias, which is a welcome sign given past Devils' records without Elias.  That said, I think the Devils are missing him quite a bit.  His playmaking skills and his shot is sorely missed on the power play.  The offense in general hasn't been all that productive, with an average of 2.5 goals per game; Elias can certainly boost that production.  Moreover, his offensive talent forces teams to focus more than just which line Zach Parise is playing on, which would help the other lines as opposing defensive efforts will be spread across two Devils lines. The team, as well as many of the fans (myself included), can't wait to see him return and rack up more points for New Jersey. 
5. You asked me, so now I have to ask you - a prediction for tonight's game?

Pain.  Oh, Penguins win 3-2 in OT.  I think NJ will take a point out of this somehow.