NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, December 23rd
(All times eastern)
New York Islanders (7-18-6) at New Jersey Devils (9-22-2), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The New Jersey Devils have seen enough this season to know
it's time for a coaching change.
The Devils have decided to fire rookie head coach John MacLean after he led
New Jersey to a 9-22-2 record through 33 games and replace him with Jacques
Lemaire, who will return to serve as the bench boss on an interim basis
starting with tonight's home game versus the New York Islanders.
MacLean, who played 14 seasons for New Jersey, was named the Devils head coach
on June 17. He replaced Lemaire, who announced his retirement in April after a
one-year return to New Jersey. Lemaire's first tenure as Devils coach came
from 1993-94 through 1997-98 and featured the first of the franchise's three
Stanley Cup championships. MacLean played under Lemaire in New Jersey and was
a member of the club's first championship team in 1995.
"This was a decision that certainly was not one that is pleasant, or we feel
good about," said Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello during a Thursday
morning press conference. "But it's a decision that, in my opinion, had to be
New Jersey has lost its last three games and was recently outscored 10-2
during a brief two-game road trip. The Devils were pounded 7-1 this past
Saturday in Atlanta and were then dealt a 5-1 loss Tuesday in Washington. The
club scored a total of just 14 goals in nine games this month under MacLean.
The Devils fired 36 shots at Michal Neuvirth on Tuesday, but the Washington
netminder turned aside 35 of them to help lead his team to the decisive win at
Patrik Elias scored the only goal for the struggling Devils, who are just
1-8-0 in December. New Jersey goaltender Marty Brodeur allowed five goals on
"We seem to be making the same mistakes over and over again, and we are losing
the same way," said Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner. "For whatever reason,
things are not clicking -- we're looking for an easier way to win hockey
games, and there is no such thing in this league."
This evening's tilt marks the first of four straight on home ice for the
Devils, who are 5-8-2 as the host this year and have lost three of their last
four games in Newark.
Also tonight, New Jersey will face an Atlantic Division foe and also the team
that it is tied with for the fewest points in the NHL this season. The
Islanders gained two points in Wednesday's win over visiting Tampa Bay to give
them 20 on the season.
New York has just seven wins this entire season, but one of those victories
came in the only meeting so far between the Isles and Devils. Rick DiPietro
made 29 saves to help the Islanders record a 2-0 shutout over a visiting New
Jersey club on Nov. 26. That victory ended New York's 14-game losing streak
and it stands as one of only three wins for the Islanders in their last 24
The Devils have still taken four of the last seven encounters in this series
and New York has suffered defeats in each of its last six trips to the Garden
John Tavares scored with 1:37 left in overtime to help the Islanders post a
2-1 win over the Lightning. In the extra session, James Wisniewski attempted
a pass from the left circle to Tavares at the right side. It hit off a Tampa
Bay player in front, but Tavares was able to grab the puck and tuck it behind
Dan Ellis for the win. It was the ninth goal of the year for Tavares and his
first since Nov. 24.
"When John starts to score it will come in bunches," said New York head coach
Jack Capuano. "If he wasn't getting the chances, we'd be concerned. But the
last couple of games he's been getting the chances."
P.A. Parenteau scored the other goal while Dwayne Roloson made 34 saves for
the Islanders, who have won two of three and have notched points in three
straight games for the first time since the end of November.
The Islanders, however, have lost 12 straight games on the road and are just
2-11-3 as the guest this year. New York's last victory away from Long Island
came on Oct. 21 in Tampa.
12/23 11:58:13 ET