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John MacLean starts first season as Devils coach
The Devils enter the 2010-11 season looking for their 14th straight postseason berth. They are also under a little more pressure after being eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs for a third consecutive year.
“Obviously, you don’t forget something like that,” veteran Brian Rolston said of the embarrassing five-game loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. “We all have a memory. But this is a new team and a different approach. We certainly can be one of the best teams in the East, but we all know ultimately what’s important. This team has been one of the best teams in the NHL for a considerable amount of time, but we’ve faltered when it counted.”
It’s a big job.
“I’m excited, anxious, ready to go,” MacLean said. “I think I have controlled emotions right now. I’m trying to keep everything in check. I think we have some good lines, some good depth. I think we have good speed. We’re able to do some damage offensively. We have great enthusiasm. I think we’re all anxious to get it going.”
During training camp, MacLean has tried to get his team to play a transition game, while continuing to stress responsibility in the defensive end.
The 38-year-old Brodeur continues to be the backbone of the team. He had 45 wins and nine shutouts in helping the Devils allow a league-low 191 goals and win a second straight Atlantic Division title.
“We have a high level of excitement,” Brodeur said. “That’s the best way to describe it. I love this locker room, because we have a bunch of guys who want to be here. No one ever wants to leave here. It’s great. Everyone wants to be a part of this team. This could be a lot of fun, because we have a great atmosphere. It’s a lot different than in other years.”
One major change is the fallout from the Kovalchuk signing. The 15-year deal that the Russian forward signed put the Devils over the NHL salary cap and they will be starting the season on Friday night against Dallas with a league-minimum 20-man roster.
That means everybody plays, every night, unless president and general manager Lou Lamoriello makes a deal or two to cut salary.
New Jersey got under the league’s $59.4 million salary cap on Wednesday by making roster moves with injured defensemen Bryce Salvador and Anssi Salmela.
Even with 20 players, there is a lot to like about the Devils, starting with the new top line of Parise, Zajac and Kovalchuk, who has moved from left wing to the right side to fit on the line.
By John R. Bolton
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