LaBarbera, on defense

Here’s what Jason LaBarbera had to say about Terry Murray’s training-camp emphasis on defensive improvement…

“It’s huge. Obviously last year was tough at times, for everyone. We had breakdowns all over the ice, including myself. The biggest thing is that, as a whole group of guys, we have to be better and be more committed. Right from today, we’re already going over that kind of stuff, and that’s huge. I think last year, not everybody was on the same page with things and not everybody trusted each other. It got us in a lot of trouble. Right from day one, if we can get on the same page and everybody knows what each other’s roles are and understands what we’re supposed to do as a unit, we’re going to be all right.”

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Player evaluation: LaBarbera

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JASON LABARBERA

This season: 45 games, 17-23 record, 3.00 goals-against average, .910 save percentage.

Positives: Actually made it to the NHL this season and did a strong job during points of the season. His size (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) remains his clear strong point and his positioning is usually solid. When he’s able to stay healthy and get in a rhythm, LaBarbera is able to build some confidence and is capable of long stretches of good play.

Negatives: LaBarbera has still yet to show that he can make it through an entire NHL season without significant injury or without being replaced because of substandard play. He tends to be a little streaky — but most goalies are — and while his size is a positive, it also limits his mobility.

Looking ahead: Once again, LaBarbera will enter training camp battling for a job. It’s been the same way every season since 2005. LaBarbera would have to be considered the favorite to earn the No. 1 job, although certainly not an overwhelming favorite. He will have to hold off Erik Ersberg and Jonathan Bernier, and possibly others, in order to win the job outright.

Contract situation: Signed through 2008-09 (cap number of $825,000 next season).

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