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Gilroy got help from Wolf Pack assistant coach

RALEIGH, N.C. - If Matt Gilroy returns to his early-season form anytime soon, credit J.J. Daigneault.

When North Bellmore product Gilroy was demoted to the Hartford Wolf Pack after a 2-1 loss in Chicago Dec. 9, assistant general manager Jim Schoenfeld told Newsday the rookie defenseman needed to work to rediscover his game.

Gilroy, 25, who was recalled Sunday, said Monday that he learned some valuable lessons both one-on-one and watching video with Wolf Pack assistant coach Daigneault, a former defenseman who played almost 900 NHL games in 16 seasons.

"He was a skating defenseman who used his stick. It was great just picking his brain and having him on the bench in between shifts," Gilroy said.

"It was in my best interest to go down. It wasn't a bad experience to see what those guys go through," said Gilroy, a Hobey Baker Award winner at Boston University, although he added: "No one wants to get sent down. It's a horrible feeling."

Asked what Gilroy needs to do to stick, coach John Tortorella said: "He needs to compete harder."

Redden, Kotalik return

Wade Redden and Ales Kotalik, benched for the previous two games, also returned to the lineup, with Brian Boyle (back) and Aaron Voros (healthy scratch) out.

"I know what I have to do to be successful," Redden said. "It's not just one thing. Just a certain feeling when things are going well, when you're mentally ready, you read and react, you're not taking that half-second extra.''

Blue lines

Rookie goalie Chad Johnson could debut in Raleigh Dec. 31, depending on Henrik Lundqvist's endurance. Lundqvist has played 18 of the last 19, and the New Year's Eve game is the second in a back-to-back. "We play 17 games in January," Tortorella said. "He's not playing them all."

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