December 13, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Goals: 0; assists: 0 points: 0; plus/minus: -2
HIS ICE TIME:
28 shifts, totaling 19 minutes and 0 seconds
A very cool moment for Zajac, the Winnipeg lad, was spoiled eight seconds into his first game in his hometown. Zajac was on the ice for the anthems as part of the Devils' starting lineup, along with Patrik Elias and David Clarkson, but right off the opening faceoff a defensive miscue -- and Clarkson falling down -- led to an Andrew Ladd goal just eight ticks into the contest. And just like that, Zajac & Co. are -1.
The Devils have their chances, still it's not the Zajac line that equalizes the game but Andre Loktionov with his second of the season. Zajac, Clarkson and Elias have their moments -- most shifts they were matched up against the Ladd-Little-Wheeler trio, but couldn't finish.
More pressure, but the most dangerous Devil in the final 20 minutes was Ilya Kovalchuk. Again, some pressure by the Zajac line, just not any finish around the net.
WHAT WE LIKED:
The mix of Zajac, Elias and Clarkson is a perfect blend of skills for Peter DeBoer and the Devils. Some grit, some hockey smarts and a whole lot of flash. We saw flashes of that periodically.
WHAT WE DIDN'T LIKE:
The whole line was a combined -6 and by game's end it was clear the Ladd-Little-Wheeler line was the best of the two top trios. This bunch hadn't played since losing to the Jets on Sunday -- Winnipeg played the Rangers on Tuesday -- but by game's end it was the Devils who looked plum tuckered out, not the home side.
Still hard not to imagine what Zajac might have looked like in Jets colours had he hit the market this summer, but the Devils locked up the Winnipegger in an eight-year deal worth $46 million in January. In other words, the rest of his games at the MTS Centre will be in Devils red, white and black, not Winnipeg double-blue. And he'll be hoping for more memorable nights than this.
-- Ed Tait
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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 1, 2013 C3