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Bluelines: Lamoriello's Moves Pay Off for Devils

• Lou Lamoriello
shuns praise the way sunbathers avoid mosquitos. But the fact that his Devils are into their third playoff round says volumes about Lou’s master strokes. A team that The Hockey News picked to finish 11th fooled the experts thanks to pivotal moves by Lou. The Devils’ general manager put together a roster full of scoring depth with a blend of experience and youth. Third-round steal and current Calder Trophy candidate Adam Henrique proved invaluable, serving as the club’s top center with Travis Zajac out due to injury. And Lou brilliantly managed fourth overall selection Adam Larsson, using veteran Peter Harrold as a fill-in when the 19-year-old defenseman experienced some growing pains. Additionally, midseason acquisitions Alexei Ponikarovsky and Marek Zidlicky continue to make major contributions.

• While considerable tension surrounds the Rangers-Devils Eastern Conference Final. there also is time for comedy. Yes, there are humorists on both teams and New Jersey captain Zach Parise is good for a Henny Youngman-type one-liner every once in a while. The following is an example: Before the series started Monday night at The Garden, a reporter was grilling Parise about ways and means to beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. The brief repartee went like this:

REPORTER: The book on Lundqvist is to shoot high. Do you subscribe to that?

PARISE: Can I have a copy of that book?

Sounds like Zach is auditioning for the lead role in “The Henny Youngman Story!”

• Ever since a third-liner named Bobby Hull barnstormed Europe -- as a Blackhawks-loaner -- with the Rangers and Bruins in Spring 1959, potential stars have found their games in the offseason. That’s why it’s worth following the progress of Islanders young guns, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo at the World Championships in Helsinki and Stockholm. Tavares, who appears bent on eventual stardom, is skating for Team Canada. After six games, JT has four goals and four assists and is a plus-5. He’s averaging more than 16 minutes per game. Meanwhile, Team USA is getting good service out of Okposo, who has a pair of goals and one assist in six games. He’s plus-1, averaging more than 18 minutes of ice time.

• Hockey fans in Sabreland will be keeping an Argus eye on the Buffalo front office and its moves between now and training camp. With both GM Darcy Regier and coach Lindy Ruff providing stability -- President Ted Black announced that the general staff will be retained -- Regier’s offseason strategy will be a topic for analysis. One issue will be improved productivity from proven players. There were significant drops in contribution from the following: Brad Boyes, Ville Leino, Christian Ehrhoff and Thomas Vanek. Precisely how Regier restructures his roster will go a long way toward turning the Sabres into a playoff team again.

• Those who know the Arizona political process best point out that one roadblock stands in the way of a Coyotes-stay-in-Glendale deal and that obstacle will come from the state’s self-appointed watchdog Goldwater Institute.

The GI group has successfully blocked other government-private projects including previous deals that would have more permanently kept NHL hockey in the state. Now that potential new owner Greg Jamison has worked out a pact with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, the pro-Jamison bloc is lobbying hard for approval. Included in that group is Senator John McCain.

“I hope this ownership thing works out,” says the former Republican Presidential candidate, “and I hope the Goldwater Institute won’t try to throw a monkey wrench into it -- again!” McCain is quite a power broker, but we’ve seen that the Goldwater Institute has plenty of clout in Arizona and that’s why we can’t be absolutely certain whether the Jamison group will prevail.


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