Jacques Lemaire is so predictable. He never wants players to take their foot off the gas, so even when things are going magnificently, Lemaire finds reason to nitpick.
On Jan. 8, the Devils were 27 points out of a playoff spot. As of Friday, they were nine back thanks to a 16-1-2 run with the miracle worker, Lemaire, at the helm.
"Just like I've never seen anything like our first half of the season, I've never seen anything like this," said Brian Rolston.
So it should come as no shock that after a practice Feb. 21, Lemaire snapped, "I thought we were in Hawaii on vacation, but there is no team there."
The next morning Lemaire pulled his players off the ice during a morning skate. "They couldn't make a pass. They couldn't do nothing," he said.
You've got to love Jacques, don't you?Dot ... dot ... dot
• As of Friday, the 12th-place team in the West would make the playoffs in the East. It's amazing how different these conferences are. You go 8-2-2 in the East, you make a run. You go 8-2-2 in the West, you're lucky to hold your position.
• By the way, the first tiebreaker is non-shootout wins. The Wild is tied for the fourth-most in the conference. If that helps the Wild make the playoffs, the team owes Columbus GM Scott Howson a Rolex or Porsche or something. He proposed that tie-breaking wrinkle.
• In a sensitive situation, the Buffalo Sabres, who have been scratching captain Craig Rivet, put him on waivers, then re-entry waivers. "It's extremely tough, and I have tried to handle that situation as well as I could," coach Lindy Ruff said. "[I have] respect for how hard he's played throughout his career and how tough it has been. He has been a good soldier."