State of the Devils: 10/21/13

The Devils finally got their first win of the season on Saturday, defeating the New York Rangers 4-0.  New Jersey was the last team in the league to get their first official win.  They were able to stay above last place thanks to a few points earned from games that went into overtime, placing them ahead of both the Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers in the Metropolitan Division.

The Devils’ struggles in these first few weeks can be attributed to two things: a horrible defensive group and six new players adjusting to a new system.  These things are fixable and coming along as the team works on perfecting their game and putting in a full 60-minute effort.

As for the six new players, Patrik Elias complained a couple of weeks ago of how the new guys were coming along slowly.  Once they fit into the new system and understand how using the system will work, everything will go smoothly, according to Elias.  It took Ilya Kovalchuk 3-4 months to understand and play in the Devils’ system.  He was only one man trying to fit in.  The Devils now have six players trying to learn the new system all at the same time.

“I think it’s still a process,” Elias said of how things are coming along with the new guys transitioning into the Devils’ ways.  “For some guys, it’s a little bit tougher than the other ones.  We’ve seen Kovy when he was here.  It took him a long time, because he was used to something else.  Certain guys, maybe they haven’t played that type of hockey.

“At the same time, we’re counting on certain rules and certain plays.  They’ll get it.  Every one of those guys here are smart players, so they’ll get it.”

“It’s different in the games though,” he said.  “You don’t have that time to think.  You have to do it automatically.”

“Overall, I think we recognize that our identity as a team isn’t where we want it to be right now,” coach DeBoer said.  “We’ve got to be harder to play against from a structure point of view and also from a competitive point of view.  You see flashes of it.  We were good two periods in Edmonton.  We only got 11 shots on net in a period or two here, but we haven’t put 60 minutes together.  That’s the focus here.”

How long will it take the Devils to begin to gel together?

“It depends,” DeBoer said.  “When I came in here three years ago, I think it took us 25-30 games before I thought we really started to move around the ice as a five-man unit the way we need to.  We don’t have that kind of time this year in my mind.  We shouldn’t need that kind of time.  We have some new faces, but it’s not a totally new system.  The expectations are not something new to a lot of these guys, so it should be a much quicker transition.  There’s no doubt you’re seeing a little bit of that.”

“I think [for] the new guys it’s a transition,” DeBoer said.  “We play a little differently than a lot of teams.  There’s a lot more responsibility in areas of the ice.  It’s a transition period.  I don’t know how long.  They’re sharp guys.  I think I’m comfortable they’re all getting it and heading in the right direction.  As far as a number of games, I can’t tell you.  I think that we’re close to playing the way we want to.”

Tedenby Getting Another Chance

Have you noticed that guy in the #9 jersey?  No, it’s not Zach Parise.  But he looks very much like that former Devil out on the ice.  The guy in the #9 jersey is the new Mattias Tedenby.

When I spoke to Tedenby about this observation, he actually laughed.

“First of all, I had a good summer, good workout,” Tedenby said.  “I feel basically strong…maybe the best summer I’ve had since I got over here.

When asked what that entailed, he gave me a little rundown of his summer training and fitting into the Devils’ system.

“I do a little bit of everything: lifting, running, and those kinds of stuff.  When I got over here, I tried to play off their system.  I tried to work hard.”

Tedenby, who is one of the fastest skaters on the team, was reactivated from injured reserve last week to join the Devils versus the Ottawa Senators last Thursday.  He was happy to finally get another chance to prove himself out on the ice.

“I’m very happy about that,” he said.  “It’s going to be fun for sure.”

What’s different this season?  He stopped being an individual player.  He slowed himself down to play alongside his line mates instead of rushing down the ice with everyone trailing behind him.

“I haven’t noticed it myself,” he said of finally synching into the Devils’ system.  “But maybe it’s normal.  I don’t know.  It’s a hard question.”

When asked if slowing down helped him going into this season, he agreed.

“Exactly,” he said.  “I tried to get better timing, so the whole group is coming together.  More dangerous.”

Bringing Tedenby back into the lineup was important in the development of the Devils squadron.  Coach DeBoer brought Tedenby back to help the team speed things up in their game.  With Ryan Clowe out injured after receiving an elbow to the head, Tedenby was given the chance to redeem himself and get another chance to make the team.

“Clowe got an elbow in Winnipeg,” coach DeBoer said.  “He’s out.  It’s an opportunity for [Tedenby] to come out and hopefully grab a job.”

“I think a little bit of speed, someone who pushes the pace of the game a little bit for us can help us right now,” DeBoer said.

If all goes well for Tedenby, this could be a big year for him to really prove himself.  He has the skills to be a phenomenal player and to help others on the team pick up the pace in their own game.  If he continues the same effort he displayed during pre-season and builds upon that, people will remember Tedenby as #9 and not that other guy.

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