Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Cross Checks [Print without images]

Monday, September 20, 2010
NJD camp: Line combos, Marty's time in net

By Scott Burnside

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils rookie coach John MacLean is moving ahead with his line combinations regardless of who may be with the team in a week or two.

"As far as us as coaches, we're ready for whatever combinations," MacLean said. "Right now, we have a pretty good lineup of guys to make different combinations of. I'm going to use what I have. Right now, that's what I have and that's what I'm going to use."

John MacLean
John MacLean moved up to the Devils' head-coaching post this past June.
Among the most interesting moves, MacLean quickly shifted Ilya Kovalchuk to the right side on a line with Travis Zajac at center and Zach Parise on the left side. Kovalchuk said the adjustment wouldn't be significant.

"It is important, but it's not a big difference. I don't think it's going to take a lot of time to adjust, especially with those two guys," he said Monday. "I think it's very important to get that chemistry between each other. It's easy with two good players, but still you want to be able to play with the closed eyes, you know where everybody is. But I think we're getting there."

The second unit that has caught people's attention is longtime linemates (or is that a long-time-ago linemates?) Patrik Elias and Jason Arnott skating alongside each other as Arnott returns to the Devils after an eight-year absence. Jamie Langenbrunner, who had such success playing with Zajac and Parise, is the third member of that trio.

Another unit that has created some buzz is rookie Jacob Josefson playing with David Clarkson and Dainius Zubrus. Josefson, 19, is the Devils' top pick (20th overall) from this past June's draft.

"I thought they had a good day," MacLean said Monday. "He's a young guy and he has a lot of poise."

Still, MacLean cautioned that it's very early in the process.

"Today was a step for him. It was an intra-squad game, so that's a step," MacLean said. "He looked good. But now you get into exhibitions. As you go through it, you have to see how guys handle the grind. It's going to be a grind here as we go forward."

How high can Marty go?
It wouldn't be a Devils training camp without a question on just how many games is the right number of games for the incomparable Martin Brodeur.

The goalie with the most wins in NHL history turned 38 last season, played in 77 games and was nominated for a Vezina Trophy, so maybe that's not too many. He played in 77 games in 2007-08, as well. Two seasons ago, he played in just 31 due to an elbow injury.

Yet the number of games Brodeur logs in the regular season seems to have no correlation to how the Devils fare in the postseason, which is generally bad of late. The Devils have gone out in the first round of the playoffs in three straight seasons and have not advanced beyond the second round since their last Cup win in 2003. So the question becomes an annual one: how much should Brodeur play to maximize his effectiveness when the games mean the most?

It's a cool question, except MacLean has no interest in answering it.



"We'll play Marty as much as we need to and we'll rest him as much as we'll need to," MacLean said. "I'm not going to say one way or another how much is too much because you don't know how everything unfolds. You just have to see how it unfolds."

Brodeur pointed out that the Devils brought in a backup goalie in Johan Hedberg who is almost as old as he is (Hedberg is 37). But it sounds as though Brodeur will be happy playing as much as he can regardless of what the calendar says and what observers think is the right thing to do.

"Again, this year, it's going to be interesting to see how it's going to go," Brodeur said. "At the end of the day, you've got to get in the playoffs [and] you've got to play well. If I stay healthy and play well, I'll play a lot of games again."

How Zach Parise spent his summer
Parise spent most of his summer in his home state of Minnesota, where he said the highlight was taking batting practice with the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. He had previously enjoyed some BP at the Metrodome and was thrilled to get a chance at the new park.

Reminded that Sidney Crosby recently jacked one out of PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Parise, who happened to be on the losing side of Crosby's gold-medal goal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics in February, acknowledged he couldn't get one out at Target Field.

"In my defense, Target Field has a higher right-field wall than PNC Park," Parise explained. And his brother hit one out, which counts for something.

Speaking of the Olympics, Parise said he's gotten to the point now where the disappointment of losing in overtime to Crosby, et al, has dulled and he can now enjoy the memories for what they are.

"The whole thing was a blast despite the way it ended," Parise said. "The whole tournament was an awesome experience. We played awesome and no one thought we were going to end up where we did, one goal away from winning the whole thing."

As for the silver medal, it's currently in Parise's sock drawer.

"It's waiting a transition into the safe, but I haven't got it in there yet. Just in the drawer, wrapped in an undershirt," he said.

Hopefully Parise has a good home security system.