The Devils started off with their first scrimmage during Friday’s training camp. The score was 1-0 White. Cory Schneider had the shutout while Rostislav Olesz scored on Martin Brodeur late into the scrimmage.
Today, we take a look at the goalie situation, the battle for Olesz to return to the NHL and an update on Jaromir Jagr’s situation.
The Two Goalies
With the Devils former backup goaltender Johan Hedberg trying out at the New York Rangers camp after being bought out by the Devils this summer, there are two #1s competing for the net this season for the Devils. Martin Brodeur is nearing the end of his career. The Devils need a successor. The hopes that Cory Schneider would be that man gives rise that the current goalie situation may be a little more interesting this season for the Devils.
During their first scrimmage, Brodeur and Schneider took post on opposite ends of the ice.
“To get back at it,” Brodeur said of the importance of the Devils’ first scrimmage in camp. “I think it’s always interesting being the first time out and how you’re going to feel. I was fine today.
“I know what we’re going to do in preseason,” he said of the goalie situation. “We know the season will be the coach’s design.”
“We’re going to split them,” he said of the preseason games.
Even though the two will both get to see their own game time during preseason, they will always be competing for the #1 spot this season, because they are both #1 goalies.
“It takes a pretty good goalie to get Luongo out of net,” Brodeur said of Schneider. “Cory is a really good goalie. He’s still young, but he’s ready to pick up on the role of #1 goalie. He was given it in Vancouver last year. We’re glad we have him on our team.”
“It’s going to be a great challenge for me to keep my game at a certain level,” Brodeur said of fighting for the #1 spot throughout the season. “We could push each other and do well for the team.”
“[For] the West, I think [Cory's] got the book on that,” Brodeur said of the challenges awaiting them. “We don’t see them necessarily, but again, for us it’s about stopping the puck.
“Hopefully we’ll have a great relationship. We had a great start the last few days. I don’t see why we won’t get along. We’ll help each other out along the way.”
“It’s good to sort of play a game-like situation,” Schneider said of the scrimmage. “But obviously we still have the real thing [to go], so it’s a good step. It’s good to get in that competitive mode. I think we all know we can be a lot better.”
“It’s more and more game-like situations and the intensity picks up every practice,” he said of getting in the competitive mode. “You sort of climb a gear every time you get closer and closer to the season. I think we’re all looking forward to getting in that mode.”
“My expectations are to play as well as I can whenever I get the opportunity to play,” he said of the expectations he has for himself this season. “Coming into a new team, a team that expects to win, it doesn’t miss the playoffs very often. That’s their expectations…to be in the playoffs every year. You want to come in and help them obtain that goal. You don’t want to be the guy that comes in and either isn’t prepared or ready and cost this team some points.
“When I get in there, I want to be the difference maker.”
With the possible expectation that he could be Brodeur’s successor, Schneider isn’t thinking about that right now. He’s thinking about getting acclimated to his surroundings, a new town, a new team, and new teammates.
“I haven’t really looked too far ahead,” he said of one day taking over Brodeur’s role after he retires. “I’m sure that kind of stuff will sort itself out in the future at some point, but it’s not something I give too much thought to.”
Schneider said he should be getting at least one full game during preseason. The rest will be split up either during the game or they will split up the preseason games and compete in whole games.
“We were just talking about it this morning really informally,” coach DeBoer said of the preseason goalie situation. “We haven’t come to any conclusions yet on it. I think we’re just taking camp day to day. Obviously we’ll have a conversation with both guys to see what they need to feel ready for game one of the season.”
Schneider, being the new kid on the block, has a lot to prove to the organization.
“Obviously they traded for me, so they have faith in me,” he said. “Again, I’m not sure what they know about me or how extensively they have seen me. Seeing the guy on the ice is one thing and seeing him behind the scenes and how he works and prepares is another thing. Absolutely, I have a lot to prove to both my teammates and the organization that they made a good choice in picking me up. For me, personally, you want to reward something like that, for giving me the opportunity. You don’t be the guy that lets them down. I’m trying to prove to the team what I can do.”
Schneider said he was surprised and shocked when he learned that he was traded to the New Jersey Devils this summer. It wasn’t something he was expecting.
“I think the more I thought about it, the more exciting it was just coming to a team like this, an organization like this. Everyone I’ve spoken to has had a great experience here. Being close to home on the East Coast, I think all those things added up to a pretty good deal. I’m a believer that everything happens for a reason so you’ve got to try to make the most of it.”
Finding a Spot
Devils newcomer Rostislav Olesz signed with the organization on July 5th. The newest Czech player made the decision to come to New Jersey just eight days after Chicago bought him out of his contract on June 27, 2013.
Olesz, who once played under DeBoer back in Florida, has been playing in the minors after suffering from two knee injuries over the past few years. He’s looking to get a fresh start on an NHL team.
“It was first practice, first play for everyone up and down really fast,” he said of the first scrimmage. “It was really fast up and down [the ice].”
“It was okay,” he said of what he thought of his performance in the scrimmage after he scored the lone goal. “I try to learn a different system, different forecheck and try to find a way to play with the guys because it was my second day on the ice and I was with two different guys. Everyone is playing a little bit different. Everyone has different time on the ice, have the puck different ways…I tried to figure [it] out.”
Olesz played on the same line as Travis Zajac and Mattias Tedenby during the scrimmage.
“It would be really fun for me,” he said about playing on the same team as Patrik Elias and Jaromir Jagr. “These two guys are the best in the Czech Republic. [The Devils] have more guys than [that]. We have Zajac and Martin Brodeur…a lot of experienced guys here on the team. Not just these two.”
“The deciding factor [for signing with the Devils]…they [spoke] to my agent really good and I felt they want me, so it was most important to talk with Pete. It was nothing to make a decision to sign here. It was very fast.”
“[Coach DeBoer] knows what he can expect from me,” he said. “He puts me in a position that he expects something from me. After two years, [he] expects a little bit more, so I have to prove it.”
“I turned my knee twice,” he said of his past injury that prevented him from playing in the NHL these last two years. “First one was in Florida when Pete was the coach. It took me about six or seven months to get back. I get back, I get traded to Chicago. I played like six games on the fourth line and then I played in the minors most of the time. I got hurt when two guys fell on me from the side. It turned my knee.
“The recovery took me over a year and one month. It wasn’t that easy coming back. Last season, I just played 14 games. At the end of the season, I felt pretty good. I work in the summer. I kept going. I started running and a lot of things to do that I wasn’t able to do before.”
“Once you turn something it never really goes fully back 100%. I did my best to get my knee [back at its best]. I don’t think anymore on that, just wearing the brace. That’s all.”
“When I came back, I wanted to make sure I was 100%, ready to play because it can’t happen again. Third time won’t be very good for me. I take extra time to get back, get my game back, and play the way they expect me to play.”
“[I want to] help the team. It doesn’t matter which position. If it’s to score goals, be on the defensive side…whatever. Left. Right. Center.”
“We’ve got an entire training camp and exhibition games,” DeBoer said of how long it would take him to make a decision on Olesz. “He scored a goal today and another one just missed at the end. I haven’t see him play in a couple years. I had a pretty long tenure with him. It wasn’t a month or two. We had him for over a year, so I think I have a pretty good handle…a pretty good comfort level that he’s a NHL player. But obviously he’s fighting for the same things everyone else is here in camp. Whether or not you’re in the NHL is one thing, it’s another what kind of role you’re going to play and how big of a role you’re going to play.”
Olesz said that he believed the coach expected more from him this time around. DeBoer said differently.
“No, not necessarily,” he said. “For me, I don’t like to put numbers on players, but this guy, for me, is a NHL player. He scored double digit goals two or three times in his career, so he’s capable of that. He’s capable of making plays with the puck. He’s a big body. That versatility in our lineup…he’s one of those guys that can play either wing. I think he can kill penalties and maybe chip in on the power play. There’s a lot there to like.”
“It set him back quite a bit,” DeBoer said of the two knee injuries. “I mean two knee injuries…he hasn’t had a lot of luck with injuries. Like any player you’re getting in that situation, I think the biggest hurdle for him is staying healthy and getting a body of games in here.”
“He has a little lower body soreness there,” Lou Lamoriello said on Friday. “It’s nothing we’re excited about, but we’re going to make sure he’s 100%. He won’t go on the ice until he’s 100%. He’ll just get treatments. He’ll do light skating, certainly when no one is in the rink. He’ll go light and then when he’s finished he’ll be ready.”
The injury is not serious enough that it will keep him out for a long time.
“That’s not our indication from him or the trainers,” Lamoriello said. “He has not gone back on the ice. We’re going to hold him off the ice until he’s ready to go out.”
Currently there is no timetable for his return.
“But we’re not concerned,” Lamoriello said. “That’s the best I can say.”
“We’re relieved, for sure,” DeBoer said of Jagr not having a serious injury. “At the same time, we’re not going to rush him. Time is on our side right now. There’s no real urgency to get him out until he’s ready.”