Patrik Elias surprised with Devils start

Elias has watched New Jersey jump out to a 9-6-1 record while rehabbing a knee injury sustained during training camp.

Forced to watch the first 16 games of the season while recovering from a knee injury, Patrik Elias is surprised at what he’s seen from the New Jersey Devils this season.

Under rookie head coach John Hynes, the Devils have put together a 9-6-1 record and have at least a point in five of their last seven games heading into Saturday night’s action against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“You never know how it will play out with new people coming in,” Elias told “But the guys seem to be enjoying themselves a little more. When it comes to business and comes to playing, the coaches make sure the work ethic is there. You’ve seen it. And from what I’ve heard it was probably the hardest training camp they’ve had and the hardest practices they’ve been involved with for a long time.

“I think that type of pace carries into the game and the guys play an up-tempo [style]. There are games when you aren’t able to do that but they’ve found a way to win.”

Elias has been sidelined by a knee injury, which flared up on him during training camp, but it’s not a new injury for the 39-year-old.

“It bothered me the last couple of years but not to the point as much as it did after the three weeks of training this summer,” Elias said. “I was coming back here and made the decision to treat it, not drastically, but take more time and that’s why I took a few weeks off. We did the basics of strengthening, taking care of it by treatment. But I feel much better than I did the end of last year.”

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Elias, who is in the final year of his three-year, $16.5 million contract, practiced for the first time on Saturday and will travel with the team on the upcoming three-game western road trip beginning on Tuesday in Calgary. However, there is no time frame for when he will return to game action and he is not expected to play during the road trip.

“I’ve been working for a few weeks now, mainly on conditioning and getting the strength back,” Elias said. “Then recently I’ve been picking it up to get some hockey stuff in. This week I’ve been working with the skills coach, Pertti Hasanen, and it’s been great. It’s something new to me and it’s been hard, but it helps.”