Devils have doubters coming off Stanley Cup run
"The challenge is to be prepared to get up to game speed and to get your structure back in place without getting injured," said DeBoer, who installed a new system last season. "That's the fine line you walk with a five- or six-day camp."
DeBoer has spoken with Jacques Lemaire, who guided the Devils to the Cup in 1995, Lamoriello and Brodeur about getting ready for the shortened season. He knows the necessity of being ready from the opening game, Saturday at the Islanders, on.
"This is one of these seasons where everyone is going to have a shot at it," Brodeur said. "It depends on the chemistry. It's the type of thing you need to get in the playoffs, and from there, a lot of things will happen. But it will be tough. You're playing the same teams over and over. It's hard to gain ground on teams. It's hard to recover from bad starts or slumps in the middle of the season.
"It's open to everyone this year."
Kovalchuk, who played 36 games in Russia during the lockout, is the key for New Jersey. He led the team with 37 goals and 83 points last season and he looked in outstanding shape Wednesday, posting a goal and an assist in a scrimmage. He had missed the Devils' first three practices after the lockout ended because of a decision to play in the KHL All-Star game.
However, Kovalchuk insists the only way the Devils will make up for Parise is for everyone to produce a little more support for Brodeur and fellow goaltender Johan Hedberg.
"If you believe in the style and everyone is on the same page," Elias said, "you can be successful no matter who you lose."
Kovalchuk agreed, saying there was no reason the Devils couldn't make another run to the finals.
"I believe so," he said.
The Devils have depth on defense with eight players. Bryce Salvador and Marek Zidlicky are the top pair, supported by Mark Fayne, Andy Greene, Anton Volchenkov, Peter Harrold, Henrik Tallinder and second-year pro Adam Larsson, who seemed to improve playing with Albany during the lockout.
Up front, Lamoriello is hoping Bobby Butler, who was signed as a free agent after a disappointing season in Ottawa, and Swedes Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby can pick up the scoring slack, along with veteran Dainius Zubrus.
"Right now, all we are worried about is getting ready for the first game," Lamoriello said. "I think the important thing is to just do all the things that you have control of and let the end result take care of itself — and then adjust accordingly."
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