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New York Islanders vs. New Jersey Devils - Lemaire Takes Reigns As Devils Look To Stay Out Of League Basement

Lou Lamoriello will see the Devils immediate response to his latest shakeup.

New Jersey's general manager fired John MacLean, who underachieved as a head coach for the Devils this season. The rookie coach led the Devils to a 9-22-2 record, good for 20 points and tied for last in the league with the New York Islanders.

Jacques Lemaire, who coached the Devils last season, will finish the season as an interim head coach. He'll begin his tenure tonight as the Islanders and Devils battle for last place tonight at the Prudential Center.

Lamoriello said patches of success delayed his decision.

"I maybe got teased at different times," Lamoriello told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. "I take responsibility for waiting and trying to get it where it should have been. Under no set of circumstances should all of this responsibility be placed on (MacLean). The responsibility lies on the players and myself for what couldn't be done. Unfortunately, we just weren't getting it done where we're at."

Lemaire coached the Devils' to a 44-27-7 record last season. New Jersey finished second in the Eastern Conference with 103 points, but lost in the first round to the Philadelphia Flyers. Lemaire coached the Devils to their first Stanley Cup championship in 1995. 

Lamoriello feels Lemaire gives the Devils an opportunity to get on track.

"I called Jacques last night, had a conversation with him and asked him where his thoughts were, and so forth," Lamoriello said to Gulitti. "We all know he left because he thought it was the right thing to do for where he was at. I asked him if he would come back for the second half so we can see exactly who we are and where we're at. I aso felt that there is time to get back on track."

The Devils need wins immediately to even consider the playoffs. New Jersey sits 18 points out of a playoff spot entering tonight's game. No team has ever made the playoffs with this few points at this part of the season.

New Jersey has an opportunity to build momentum tonight against the Islanders. New York is 2-11-3 on the road this season and has allowed 105 goals this season, last in the league. 

The Islanders blanked the Devils, 2-0, on November 26 at Nassau Coliseum. Jesse Joensuu put the Isles ahead, 1-0, at 1:32 of the opening period. Rob Schremp pushed the lead to 2-0 at 5:15 of the second period. Rick DiPietro finished the game, stopping all 13 shots in the third period. DiPietro, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, made 29 saves for the win.

The Devils will need to focus on their 5-on-5 play tonight. Over the past three games, team's have outscored them 13-0 during 5-on-5 play. They've also been outscored 15-3 en route to losing eight of their last nine games.

The Devils hope the coaching change will show the organization the team's problems.

"We're going to find out whether it's coaching, chemistry, character, whatever," team owner Jeff Vanderbeek told Gulitti. "That's our job to find out and we will."