Lamoriello says Lemaire will return as Devils' coach

Lou Lamoriello is generally considered the best GM in the business.
He’s created a franchise that has been insanely successful, built on
great defense and goaltending and one that has remained competitive year
after year.

Yet after three straight incredibly disappointing
first round exits, especially this year after losing in five games to
the Philadelphia Flyers, there are thoughts that big changes should be
made. Perhaps the NHL and the game of hockey have passed up the Devils
and the system that was used to win Stanley Cups in two of four years is
no longer successful in the playoffs.

To me, it seemed that the
Devils had the coaching and the skill to be successful this postseason,
this was just a team that was directionless and full of players that
just weren’t motivated to play as hard as the team they were facing. Is
that the coach’s fault? Is Jacques Lemaire to blame for this failure,
after the Devils had been building under Brent Sutter? Should the Devils
just blow it up, trade Brodeur and move forward?

Today, in a conference call with the media, Lamoriello says that
he’s happy with the goaltending and that we should expect Lemaire back
in New Jersey next season. Rich Chere of The Star Ledger has the
transcript; here’s
a taste:

“I am certainly happy with the job
Jacques has done. And I’m not unhappy
with the effort put in. We just didn’t get thinsg done the way it had
to be done. You can go over each and every game and look at the turning
points. What was positive and what was negtaive. I’m looking at myself
right now. I’m nit even thinking about anything else. I’m evaluating
myself the best way I can of what potentially might have been able to be
done.”

He says the Devils will work hard to extend
Ilya Kovalchuk, and that he’s happy with Jamie Langenbrunner as captain.
He also said multiple times that Lemaire will be back, and that he
won’t blame the Olympics for the struggles of the Devils.

So the big blow up that some think is needed? Sounds like that won’t
happen anytime soon.

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    Rangers get good news on McDonagh, bad news on Nash

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    Some good news/bad news for the Rangers.

    Exactly one week after suffering a concussion against the Philadelphia Flyers, defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned to the ice with his teammates this morning.

    The Rangers captain was wearing a non-contract jersey, but “looked good” according to coach Alain Vigneault.

    McDonagh was hurt after taking a punch to the head from Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds (above).

    The 26-year-old has missed each of his team’s last three games since suffering the injury.

    McDonagh hasn’t been cleared for contact, but that could happen in the next few days according to Vigneault.

    The news wasn’t as good for forward Rick Nash, who’s been dealing with a bone bruise in his leg.

    Nash has missed each of New York last eight game’s and Vigneault admitted that he’s no longer considered day-to-day.

    He’ll miss at least another week.

    Video: Blandisi scores great between-the-legs goal vs. Flyers

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    What a story Joseph Blandisi‘s been for the New Jersey Devils this season.

    The 21-year-old played in his first NHL game on Dec. 11 and has stayed with the Devils ever since.

    It took him five games to pick up his first career point, but he’s done a whole lot more damage since then.

    Blandisi came into Saturday’s action with 10 points in his last 12 games and he added to that against the Flyers.

    He opened the scoring with this beautiful between-the-legs goal on goalie Michal Neuvirth (top of the page).

    That’s Blandisi’s fourth goal of the season.

    Some Twitter reaction to the goal:

    Bruins’ Bergeron ruled out for Saturday’s game against Wild

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    The Boston Bruins will be without center Patrice Bergeron in Saturday afternoon’s matinee against the Minnesota Wild.

    It’s unclear how Bergeron suffered the undisclosed injury, but there’s reason to believe it occurred after he dropped the gloves with Jets forward Blake Wheeler (above).

    He’s considered day-to-day at this point.

    Losing him for an extended period of time would be devastating for Boston.

    “You don’t like seeing your star players (fight), but you also understand that it’s an emotional game and that stuff happens and at one point a player says, ‘Enough is enough and I’m going to stand up for myself,’” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said after the game, as per the Boston Herald.

    “From what I gathered there was a lot of slashes behind the legs behind the play and stuff like that. He took things upon himself. As much as you don’t like it, you can’t tell him he’s not allowed. He’s a big boy and he can certainly make some decisions on the ice. And it’s not the first time that he’s fought. But I like the fact that he doesn’t fight much.”

    After this incident, there’s no doubt that the Bruins will tell Bergeron to keep his gloves on from now on.

    Jets will take one more crack at re-signing Andrew Ladd

    Winnipeg Jets' Andrew Ladd (16) and Blake Wheeler (26) celebrate Ladd's goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)
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    Jets captain Andrew Ladd still doesn’t have a contract for next season and with the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaching, something’s gonna have to give.

    According to TSN’s Gary Lawless, the Winnipeg Jets will make one last push to sign the forward before making him available on the trade market.

    Ladd doesn’t want to leave and the team wants to keep him, but after Dustin Byfgulien got an extension earlier this month, there may not be enough money to go around.

    At one point, the Jets reportedly made Ladd a six-year offer worth $6 million per year, which he obviously didn’t accept.

    Can they top that? Time will tell.

    Waiting to trade Ladd is probably the smartest decision.

    Keeping the captain around would be great, but if the two sides can’t agree to a new contract, there’ll be no shortage of suitors for Ladd’s services.

    Lawless mentions the Penguins, Panthers and Blackhawks as potential landing spots for the 30-year-old.

    The Kings have also been mentioned as a potential destination for Ladd.

    Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff will have to make some crucial decisions over the next few weeks.