New Jersey Devils Back in Action, Searching for Winning Streak
By Kristin Tullo (@K_Tullo)
The New Jersey Devils felt their first breath of life Saturday night when they pummeled Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers 4-0 at the Prudential Center for their first victory of the season.
The otherwise winless Devils will be back in action tonight against the Columbus Blue Jackets in hopes of stringing together their first two-game win streak.
Tonight’s meeting between the Blue Jackets and Devils will be the first of four this season and the first between the clubs since Columbus joined the Eastern Conference. In their seven prior meetings in Columbus the Devils lead the series 4-2-1 and are 8-2-2 overall.
This will be the fifth inter-conference battle for the Devils and the fourth against a Metropolitan Division rival.
Peter DeBoer will go with his same six defenseman as he did on Saturday night, which means Adam Larsson and Martin Brodeur will sit out once again. Larsson was a healthy scratch on Saturday night, not for the first time this season, but is set on not having it bother him like it did last season.
“I’m not going to be too low right now. I think it’s too early in the season to start thinking,” Larsson told the Star-Ledger before Saturday’s game. “That was pretty much what was killing me last year. When I was sitting out I was thinking too much.”
DeBoer has juggled his roster quite a bit in the early part of the season, inserting and removing players like Larsson to find the right matchup that will earn them the points the Devils so desperately need.
“We’re going with the 20 best guys to win a hockey game. It’s as simple as that,” the coach said of his personnel decisions.
One of the changes DeBoer made was putting Rostislav Olesz, one of New Jerseys summer signings, in the lineup after keeping him out to start the season. Olesz earned his first point as a Devil on Oct. 19 when he assisted on Adam Henrique’s slapshot that found the back of the net.
Cory Schneider earned his first win as a Devil and his 10th career shutout with a perfect 22-save performance against the Rangers and will return to the crease for his second consecutive start.
The Devils will be without Patrik Elias for the second time this season as he continues to battle with an illness that held him back in New Jersey while the team is in Ohio.
Mattias Tedenby will remain in the Devils lineup and Damien Brunner, who missed one game with upper body soreness, will be back for Tuesday nights Metropolitan tilt.
Unfortunately for Jacob Josefson, the return of Brunner means he will once again be a healthy scratch for New Jersey. Josefson had two shots on goal in 12:19 of ice time against the Rangers and has only appeared in two of the Devils first eight games.
The Devils currently sit in 13th place in the Eastern Conference with five points and while the season is still young, they will need to keep themselves from falling too far behind the pack in order to remain competitive for a playoff spot. Only the New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers have fewer points than the Devils in the East.
Noteworthy: Jaromir Jagr is expected to play in his 1,400th NHL game tonight. Jagr reached his 300th two-point game of his NHL career when he collected two assists on Saturday night and is now seven points away from 1,700.