Ask Pete DeBoer about navigating the compacted, lockout-shortened schedule and the Devils coach quickly mentions how he leans on the playing experience of his assistants Scott Stevens and Dave Barr and on general manager Lou Lamoriello.

DeBoer similarly credits Barr with the success of the team's penalty kill and assistant Matt Shaw for his work with the improving power play (seven goals over the team's five-game winning streak).

The one guy you won't find DeBoer patting on the back, though, is himself. And with the Devils off to an 8-1-3 start and in first place in the Eastern Conference heading into tonight's game against Carolina, he's one of those who deserve the most credit.

"That's what's great about Pete," Lamoriello said Monday. "Pete's comfortable in his own skin, and when you're comfortable in your own skin, it's just getting the job done. It's not who does what, when they do it and how they do it."

DeBoer gave the team Monday off to rest after sweeping a home-and-home series from Pittsburgh with a pair of 3-1 wins. He was lauded last season by the players and Lamoriello for his willingness to delegate responsibility within his staff and how that cohesiveness among the coaches contributed to the team's run to the Stanley Cup Finals.

When assistants Larry Robinson (assistant in San Jose) and Adam Oates (head coach in Washington) left last summer, though, there was some question about how that would impact the team. But the Devils haven't missed a beat with Stevens taking over for Robinson – both Hall of Fame players – running the defensemen and Shaw filling Oates' role as the power-play architect.

"The job that was done last year was very similar to the job that's being done right now," Lamoriello said. "First of all, there's an appreciation for each and every one of them with each other, and they work very well together. There's no egos involved. Pete does a great job of delegating, but not in the way of, 'You do this. You do that.' It's delegating in a way where there's mutual input at all times."