Devils' Patrik Elias ready to play; will it be vs. Columbus Blue Jackets?

November 24, 2015 - The Star Ledger - View Full Article

He missed the first 20 games with ailing knee

NEWARK -- Patrik Elias says he is ready to play his first game of the season after missing the first 20 because of an ailing right knee.

But will he be in the Devils' lineup Wednesday night when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets at Prudential Center?

"There's a good chance. It's either going to be tomorrow or Friday," coach John Hynes said afterTuesday's practice. "We'll see how he goes through today. He and I haven't had a final conversation yet on whether we're going to do it.

"We wanted to put him in a line situation today and work with him little bit on the power play. It's imminent. We just want to make sure everything is good to go with him, myself, the trainers and Ray (Shero) before we put him in."

The Devils have 22 players on the active rooster, so they would not have to make a move to active Elias. The franchise's all-time scoring leader skated on a line with Jacob Josefson and Stefan Matteau in practice, as well as seeing some power play time.

"I think I'm in, by the look of it," Elias said hopefully. "We talked in Vancouver before the game. It's pretty much John's call when he feels the time is right for me."

RELATED: Devils' awards at the quarter mark

What was the conversation in Vancouver?

"It was the end of trip. I think it was after his last practice on Sunday and we said we'd take the travel day," Hynes said. "We just had a discussion about where we were at, what I was thinking and how he felt. The trainers were involved, too."

Elias said this return will be made easier after dealing with previous issues at the start of seasons. He missed the first 39 games of the 2005-06 season because go hepatitis A contracted during the lockout and he also missed the first 13 games in 2009-10 because of a groin issue.

"Yes, especially after the hepatitis when I didn't do anything for almost a year, for over nine months," Elias recalled. "So that's kind of similar. It's been seven months almost since I played my last game. I'm excited, but I'm a smart enough player not to get myself in trouble too much. I'm not saying I might not, but not too much. I'll try to keep it simple the first few games and hopefully I can get into the mmix of things pretty quickly."

Josefson called Elias "a great player all over the ice" and said it was a good opportunity to get to play with him.

Hynes said Elias and Josefson will be linemates but he hasn't decided definitively on the third forward.

"You're getting a very good player in there that brings a little bit different dimension to our lineup," Hynes said of Elias. "He's got great hockey sense and he's got good offensive abilities. He's got a lot of maturity and moxie to his game.All those things are important and that's what Patrik would brin to the table. We're looking forward to getting him in there for sure."

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Defenseman David Schlemko (lower body) did not practice and is doubtful.

Tyler Kennedy is not ready after joining the team.

"Kennedy still needs a little bit more time," Hynes said. "He feels good. It's not like he's coming off an injury situation where you have to worry about that. It's more conditioning and timing. You want to always give guys the opportunity to feel comfortable so when they get in they are able to feel good about themselves and have a good performance."

Rich Chere may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Ledger_NJDevils. Find on Facebook


Devils' awards at the quarter pole

November 24, 2015 - The Star Ledger - View Full Article

Who has been the team's Most Valuable Player?

NEWARK -- The Devils have reached the quarter-pole in their first season under rookie coach John Hynes.

They have performed better than most expected, with an 11-8-1 record.

So who has done well?

Most Valuable Player: Cory Schneider

The goalie is 10-5-0-1 and five times this season he's helped the team bounce back after a loss by posting a win. Schneider's 2.05 goals-against average is sixth among NHL goalies with at least five games and his .928 save percentage ranks ninth.

Key forward: Kyle Palmieri

Adam Henrique, leading the Devils with nine goals, and Mike Cammalleri, the overall scoring leader with 21 points, could easily be viewed as the club's key forward. However, Palmieri is right there in both categories (seven goals, 16 points). He shares the team lead with Henrique with two game-winning goals.

Palmieri's four power play goals have been important to the team, as has his willingness to play with some grit.

RELATED: Devils defeat Canucks

Key defenseman: Andy Greene

Adam Larsson may wind up having the best season among all Devils defensemen and Damon Severson is coming on strong, but Greene has maintained his role as the leader among the club's D-men. He still logs heavy ice time against the top opposing forwards and has handled the captaincy extremely well on a team that required leadership in its first 20 games.

We suspect that Larsson's development as one of the league's brightest young defensemen has a lot to do with the fact he's paired with Greene.

Biggest surprise: Lee Stempniak

There was no guarantee he'd even be on the team before his strong showing as a training camp tryout. Since then the veteran winger has scored 16 points and been a key member of the Devils' first line for most of the first 20 games.

A prudent signing by GM Ray Shero.

Player to watch: Sergey Kalinin

With his size, reach and willingness to go to the net for the hard goals, the Russian has shown steady improvement and flashes of brilliance. What he does in the next quarter will be key to whether Shero and the Devils pulled off one of the best free agent signings of the offseason.

Most underrated: John Moore

Signed as a free agent, Moore hasn't been flashy or really stood out from the crowd. But he has been exactly what the Devils anticipated when they got him.

Rich Chere may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Ledger_NJDevils. Find on Facebook