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Janssen making the most of return to the minors

Right wing Cam Janssen was loaned by New Jersey to the Albany Devils on Jan. 31, making his first trip to the minors in five seasons, and making it just in time for a three-in-three entirely on the road.

Janssen’s last stint in the “bus leagues” was in the 2007-08 season with the Lowell Devils for three games. He’s played the better part of the last eight seasons in the NHL between New Jersey and his native St. Louis, but he’s not letting this reassignment get him down.

Quite the opposite, he’s focusing on the positives of it, including tons more ice time than he’s seen in his years at the top level.

Even so, long bus trips for road games don’t get more comfortable as the years pass. Not even when you get a full two seats to stretch out.

“We are definitely on a long road trip here, and the bus rides are . . . well, buses are buses,” Janssen said. “I feel bad for the rookies who have to double up, let me just say that.

“It’s always good to play at home,” he said, looking forward to Wednesday’s game against Syracuse, which will be his first home game in Albany since the 2005-06 season as a River Rat. “We have a nice locker room there. The locker room is big, it’s comfortable, it’s NHL-style. And my fiance can come watch me, too. She’s craving to come watch me play some minutes. She loves it. She doesn’t miss a beat. So, she’s excited to come watch me. It’s hard to watch it on the Internet. So she’s excited to come watch me play when it does happen.”

Janssen said his fiance came north with him, so she will get a chance to see him skating his increased ice time when the team is home.

He has 311 NHL games behind him, but has played just 1,483 minutes in those games. He also has 750 minutes in penalties in those games, which is a little less than a 2:1 ration of time on ice to time in box.

“Before he even steps on the ice, he gives us that element of respect from other teams,” Albany coach Rick Kowalsky said. “He’s had a couple fights here, but [also,] he’s a good guy in the locker room, he’s old school, he’s always talking on the bench. I talked to him about coming down here, getting confidence, obviously playing a lot more than he has in years.”

Janssen came right into a three-in-three, and he said the adrenaline carried him through the first game, but the second game was a little tougher to skate through. He started catching up during the third game.

The last two games, he lined with Darcy Zajac and Chris McKelvie.

“Our line, skating with Zajac and Mack, our energy level’s high, we know where each other is at, we’re producing,” Janssen said. “We haven’t put points on the board yet, but trust me, we’ve had a lot of opportunities, and I’m sure they see that. We’re trying to put it all together, and it’ll come.

“I’m taking this as positive as I possibly can. The guys have been great, and the coaching staff is great. Coming down here and getting ice and working on my game. You know, you can work on your shot and your skating all you want. You can work on it all you want. If you’re not in a game situation and getting ice time in a game situation, it’s hard to put it all together. So I’m taking this for what it is, doing what I’ve got to do, and then when they need me, I’ll be ready.”

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