You can call them a machine, one with 23 parts all working toward the same purpose.
You can call them resourceful, capable of replacing a star like Patrik Elias for a night with a rookie.
You can call the Devils, who stretched their winning streak to five Friday night, all sorts of unselfish, unpretentious things. Just don't call them interchangeable.
"Let's be careful how far we go with that," Lou Lamoriello said to laughs after an impressive 3-0 shutout of the Vancouver Canucks at the Meadowlands.
It was nine years ago that Colin Campbell referred to the Devils as "an interchangeable flock of forwards" - a comment that, coming from the coach of the glitzy Rangers, initially came off as an insult.
But it was true then, and it's true now. And it's hardly a bad thing.
Elias was absent Friday night, out with what Lamoriello said was the flu. He'd been brilliant in his first four games since recovering from hepatitis A, but the Devils have been cautious with him. Lamoriello rested him from practice Thursday, and after the winger said yesterday he was ill, the GM/interim coach told him to stay home.
Rookie Zach Parise replaced him on the top line, and Aleksander Suglobov was recalled from Albany - not Alexander Mogilny, who was demoted there this week.
Based on how the Devils played in Elias' absence over the season's first three months, this appeared to be a big problem. But this no longer looks like the same team.
"When we found out this morning, we were like, 'The savior's gone! What's going to happen?' " Martin Brodeur said.
Brodeur was only kidding. The Devils (21-18-5) are much more confident now, not to mention effective defensively. They handled the Canucks without taking many penalties (just three). As a result, Brodeur went on to record his second straight shutout and third in the past five games.
Parise fit in fine, and the Devils' once-punchless power play struck thrice, the last being an empty-netter. Two of the scores belonged to Brian Gionta (25 goals), who has a shot to become the franchise's first 50-goal scorer.
"You could look right through that lineup tonight, and I don't know if you could find any passengers," said Lamoriello, his record as interim coach now 7-5. "That, to me, is the most impressive thing you could say."
Hurricanes edge Predators
Frantisek Kaberle scored on a penalty shot midway through overtime to lead the Carolina Hurricanes past the Nashville Predators 5-4 on Friday.
Kaberle was awarded the chance when Scott Hartnell - who was trying to stop a rush up ice by Carolina - threw his stick along the ice to slow Kaberle as he skated in for a breakaway against Tomas Vokoun. Kaberle didn't get off a shot then, but took advantage right after.
Kaberle hesitated as he took the puck to the left side and flipped it by Vokoun at 2:31 of the extra period.
Rod Brind'Amour scored two goals for the Hurricanes, who won their sixth straight game and beat one of the Western Conference's top teams for the second time this week. Carolina, which defeated Central Division-leading Detroit on Tuesday, moved into a tie with Philadelphia with an NHL-best 62 points.
In other NHL action: Atlanta 2, St. Louis 0; Tampa Bay 4, Columbus 2; Chicago 4, Pittsburgh 1; Washington 3, Anaheim 2, OT.