Jersey Devil

December 12, 2009 by  

Jersey DevilJersey Devil:Jay Pandolfo and Johnny Oduya both took part in Friday’s optional morning skate at the Prudential Center, but neither will play against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Coach Jacques Lemaire said both are almost certain to play Saturday night against the Detroit Red Wings, but couldn’t handle back-to-back matches.

“No one is coming back,” Lemaire said. “It was either tonight or tomorrow night, so we figured tomorrow night. It’s hard to play two games in two nights when you haven’t played for a while. The games are so intense. They didn’t have a lot of practices.”

He did not say it was 100 percent certain Pandolfo and Oduya would both play Saturday.

“Probably,” Lemaire said. “Then they’ll have a day before Buffalo. It’ll be perfect.”

Both Oduya and Pandolfo felt the decision to wait was a wise one.

“Obviously we wanted to play today, but I think his decision was a good one,” Oduya said. “Maybe it’s not smart to throw yourself into back-to-back games.

“Once you’re in you want to (stay) in. Might as well give me one more day and keep going..”

He said his lower body injury is behind him and not an issue.

Pandolfo’s dislocated right shoulder occurred exactly six weeks from Saturday night (Oct. 24 in Pittsburgh), so the 4-6 week assessment was right on the money. He said the decision to sit out one more game was a consultation between the training staff and coaching staff.

“I feel better every day. I’m doing more. I keep improving,” Pandolfo said. “No one likes not playing. I’m looking forward to get back. I’m sure it’s going to be tough at first.”

Although Lemaire wouldn’t reveal his goalie for Friday night, Martin Brodeur appears to be the starter because he took the morning off.

As for the back-to-back games, Lemaire said; “We do have a plan. We’ll talk about our plan after the game because plans change.”

Lemaire is hesitant to reveal his goalie when he doesn’t know which goaltender will play for the other team.

“We have tape on the goalie in every meeting,” he explained. “So if we don’t know, we have to prepare two tapes. It’s more work.”

Ilkka Pikkarainen, Matt Corrente, Andrew Peters, Rod Pelley and goalie Yann Danis were also on the ice.

Lemaire indicated there would be one lineup change Friday night. Rod Pelley will return to the lineup in place of Andrew Peters.

“I don’t think I’ve played well enough the last few games to stay in,” Peters said candidly. “I don’t feel I had a strong first period the last game. It was definitely not one of my better games. Not to point fingers at myself, but on the one goal by (Daniel) Sedin I tried to pass to (Niclas) Bergfors and missed him. I should’ve just gotten it deep and changed.

“And Rod didn’t play last game. They’ve got to get him in. That’s part of my job. I knew that coming in. I definitely have to do better.”

Lemaire explained what he’d like to see at the start of the game.

“Intensity,” he answered. “Start on the puck and stay on the puck.”

*    *    *

The Devils play in Buffalo Monday night, which will be a return to that city for Peters. He played five seasons for the Sabres.

But the New Jersey enforcer said he isn’t looking ahead.

“Honestly, I didn’t look ahead the last time we played them and I’m not looking forward to this one. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just another game. Another game we have to win and want to win.”

But this one will be in Buffalo.

“It doesn’t matter,” he insisted. “It’s not important to me. And I’m not lying. I don’t hold any grudges. I had five great years there and I’m a New Jersey Devil now. Damned proud to be one.”

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