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Devils looking to mesh

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Devils looking to mesh


Thursday, October 20, 2005



EAST RUTHERFORD - In a way, the Devils have spent their first half-dozen games searching for their identity.

They know what they're supposed to be and what they have been - one of the league's best defensive teams. So far, however, they seem unsure of themselves as they adjust to the new rules and new teammates.

As a result, they are 3-3 as they begin their first real road trip of the season tonight in Pittsburgh against the winless Penguins.

The time on the road might be just what they need to get acquainted - and re-acquainted - with each other. The Devils have seven players who weren't with them at the end of the 2003-04 season. Plus, even the ones who have been teammates for years saw little of each other during the lockout.

"It's funny," Devils coach Larry Robinson said after Wednesday's practice at Continental Arena. "I think the game has changed in that in the old days guys used to hang around a lot more together because everybody pretty well had similar interests. Today there's different cultures and different personalities. Now, not everybody does the same thing. When you do get occasions such as this, it's always nice to get out with your teammates. You find out a lot about each other when you're just sitting around, whether it's lunch or having a soda or whatever."

The Devils have played two road games this season - a 5-2 loss in Philadelphia and a 4-1 loss to the Rangers - and neither involved getting on a plane or being away from home for more than a night. On this trip, they'll spend an off day in Atlanta on Friday before playing the Thrashers on Saturday night.

That will be the perfect opportunity for some team bonding.

"The first trip is always good," left wing Jay Pandolfo said. "It's the first time all the guys are together. Guys get a chance to go out to dinner. Bringing the guys together will be good.

"It's nice also to get a win, though, when you go on the road."

The Devils are well aware that they didn't play well in their previous road games. In fact, they've also been inconsistent at home, though they've managed to put together a 3-1 Meadowlands record.

Before rallying to beat Florida, 4-3, Tuesday, the Devils were outscored, 10-2, in losing their previous two games. Even Tuesday, they had moments of uncertainty.

They gave up the first goal for the fourth game in a row and fell behind, 3-2, when Florida's Juraj Kolnik scored early in the third period. On both occasions, however, they responded quickly with the tying goal.

"We lost two games, but the way we lost them it seemed like we had lost 10 in a row," center Scott Gomez said. "This is a big test for us. We're still kind of - not a fragile team - but we've got a confidence thing. It all starts with a win. Sometimes that's all it takes to turn things around."

BRIEFS: Defenseman Colin White, who missed Tuesday's game with a groin strain, did not practice again Wednesday and is questionable for tonight. After working out off the ice Wednesday, White hopes to take part in the morning skate today. "Obviously, it's not something you rush, but at the same time I don't feel that far away," White said. "We'll see what [this] morning brings and, hopefully, I can get on the ice." ... Martin Brodeur is expected to start his seventh consecutive game in net.

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