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Devils' Mike Cammalleri gets first taste of Rangers rivalry
Switched to a line with Patrik Elias, he days they had 'instant chemistry'
NEWARK — Mike Cammalleri will get his first taste of a Devils-Rangers game that counts.
And the veteran winger can’t wait.
“I’m excited. It’s the Rangers-Devils. I look forward to it. Especially at home here,”Cammalleri told NJ Advance Media on Monday.
He will begin the game on a somewhat new line. During the third period in Saturday night’s home opener, coach Pete DeBoer switched Cammalleri and Dainius Zubrus.
That configuration remained the same in practice Monday, with Cammalleri on the line with Patrik Elias and possibly Martin Havlat (if he can play). Zubrus will skate with Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr.
Rarely does a player leading the team with five goals in five games get moved from a line.
“It doesn’t bother me even a little bit. I got to play with Patty in the third period last game and I thought we had some instant chemistry,” Cammalleri said. “More importantly, as a group we just want to make sure we get some chemistry right through our lineup.
“That was one of the most attractive things about coming here. There were so many different opportunities to play with tremendous players. It’s all good by me.”
The Devils signed Cammalleri to a 5-year, $25 million contract this past summer.
DeBoer said of switching Cammalleri and Zubrus: “I like how it looked in the third period the other night.”
And what does he think of Travis Zajac’s recent play?
“I think he’s been fine,” DeBoer said. “Like all our guys, I think we’ve had some good moments and some moments that haven’t been as good. Overall he’s definitely heading in the right direction.
“We’re still looking for the right chemistry with our group as a whole and consistent production from all three lines. Travis is no different than anybody in that.”
But are the Devils heading in the right direction? After winning their first three, they’ve lost to the Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks.
“We like some stuff we’re doing that we think will result in wins,” Cammalleri said. “I’d like to see us get some wins again because that result always helps with resolve.”
A meeting with rivals like the Rangers will add incentive.
“Everything is heightened a little bit,” DeBoer said. “There is obviously more emotion involved in those type of games even though the points are the same at the end of the night. They’re important games. They’re divisional games. From a coaching end you don’t have to prepare a lot of speeches to get your team motivated.
“We worked on some things today we wanted to get at from our last game and also some of the Rangers’ tendencies. I think our guys are ready to go.”
Devils' changes: Adam Larsson will replace Eric Gelinas
Tuomo Ruutu has been dropped from the fourth line
NEWARK — Finally, defenseman Adam Larsson will make his season debut for the Devils, but it will come at the expense of Eric Gelinas.
Although coach Pete DeBoer said he hasn’t decided on whether he will make changes for Tuesday night’s game against the Rangers at Prudential Center, Larsson practiced in Gelinas’s spot alongside Jon Merrill.
DeBoer also took Tuomo Ruuto off the fourth line and put Damien Brunner there.
“We’ll see. I haven’t made any final decisions yet but we’re considering some changes,” DeBoer said Monday.
If he hasn’t told Larsson or Gelinas yet, they’ve already gotten the message.
“I think so. I didn’t play well enough in the last game apparently,” Gelinas said. “At this point it’s up to me to work hard to get back in. I (played) the first five games for some reason. I just have to play the way I was early in the season.
“I think it’s a little bump in the road. I just have to work hard to get back to where I was at.”
Larsson was excited about playing his first game of the season.
“Yeah, looks like it. It will be fun,” he said.
It has been difficult on the young Swede.
“The first day was probably the toughest,” Larsson said. “I kind of realized that it doesn’t do any good for me if I let it affect me, so I just kept working hard. I’m glad I’ve got a chance again.”
What has he been working on?
“I think everything,” Larsson said. “The coaching staff has been good. They’ve really been drilling me pretty hard. It’s been a tough couple of weeks but I’m glad to be back in a game right now. I’ll just take one day at a time.
“I think the whole team is excited for tomorrow.”
As for Gelinas, he’ll try to fight his way back into the lineup.
“I’m really trying to do the little details the coaches tell me to work on,” he explained. “I think my focus is really on the defensive mode. I think I’ve been doing a better job without the puck. I think maybe my focus was too much on that and offensively I wasn’t making the right plays or making the right decisions. Normally that’s my strength. I have to get back to doing everything I do best.”
In his five games, Gelinas had no goals, two assists and was minus-1.