Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Devils' Deboer Upbeat throughout Downtimes

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Devils' Deboer Upbeat throughout Downtimes

Article excerpt

NEWARK - Seemingly every player superstition has been tried, the coaching manual nearly exhausted.

So far, nothing has helped the Devils get a win. They've lost nine consecutive games (0-5-4) heading into tonight's contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre, a slide that's dropped them six points out of a playoff spot with only seven games remaining.

Devils coach Pete DeBoer hasn't given up, though.

Near the end of Sunday's practice, the coaches moved the nets to the edge of the center-ice circle and set up a mini game of 3-on-3.

"We did a little goal-scoring game at the end, tried to loosen it up," DeBoer said. "The confidence mind-set is critical right now."

The Devils will play again tonight without right wing Ilya Kovalchuk, who will miss his 10th game in a row with a right shoulder injury. Kovalchuk didn't practice with the team Sunday - he skated on his own instead - and DeBoer said he's still "moving in a positive direction, but not good enough to play."

The Devils haven't won since Kovalchuk was injured March 23 and the goals have slowed to a trickle. In Friday's 2-0 loss to Ottawa, they were shut out despite outshooting the Senators, 33-11.

After the game, DeBoer said the coaches had to start to "think outside the box" to help the players because their effort has been good enough to win.

"That little game at the end was kind of fun, a little different," goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "Maybe they'll find the scoring touch. They scored a lot of goals in a short period of time, so it was good."

Keeping the players' moods upbeat hasn't been easy, but after approaching it differently during his three seasons coaching the Florida Panthers, DeBoer believes that's the best approach.

"I went through some tough situations in Florida at this time of year and I learned that it's counterproductive to do anything but show up and be as positive and upbeat as possible," DeBoer said.

Sure, DeBoer considered going into the locker room and yelling at the players. …

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