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Healthy Volchenkov returns to the lineup

Friday, 11.5.2010 / 12:36 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Healthy Volchenkov returns to the lineup
Anton Volchenkov
Anyone who saw Anton Volchenkov hit in the face by that Nicklas Backstrom slapshot certainly knows how painful it looked. The puck drilled Volchenkov in the shield, breaking his nose during the Devils' visit to Washington on Oct. 9 and leaving him with a stiff neck.

Tonight, after a 12-game absence, the rugged defenseman returns to the lineup against the Rangers.

"I had some good skates, some good practices," Volchenkov said. "I'm in good condition now and I'm ready to go." 

He had just gotten his nose fixed over the summer. Unfortunately, the damage was nothing new for the shotblocking specialist.

"I break it every year, almost," he said. "I tried to fix it for a brief period, and in the second game, right straight to my nose."

The Devils have been battered this season by injuries to key regulars like Martin Brodeur (elbow), Zach Parise (knee), Brian Rolston (sports hernia) and Bryce Salvador (concussion). They're also missing forward Jacob Josefson (hand), and defensemen Matt Corrente (broken hand) and Mark Fraser (broken hand).

So getting back a veteran blueliner was good news for head coach John MacLean. His team won 5-3 at Chicago on Wednesday and aims for its first home win of the season with Johan Hedberg starting against the Rangers.

"It feels good," MacLean said. "Volchie, it's going to be good to have him back. We're probably not going to have time to ease him into it, so he's going to get right into it, which I'm sure he's ready for."

Brodeur left Wednesday's game in the second period after taking a Patrick Kane shot off his right elbow. The Devils blew a 2-0 cushion before regaining the lead on Brad Mills' first NHL goal. MacLean wants to see his club feed off of those positives tonight.

"I think it helps," the coach said. "I thought we played a very good game. I thought everybody was on board and played hard. Some guys played a lot of extra minutes and I felt we played, overall, a 60-minute game. We stuck with it, we battled through the adversity in that game and came out on top."

Colin White will be out of the lineup tonight with the flu. Alexander Urbom was recalled from Albany (AHL) under emergency conditions.

"It's out of our control, it's unfortunate, but it's another opportunity for somebody to play," MacLean said, admitting he's never seen anything like this rash of setbacks.

Not even a month into the season, the Devils have already lost 72 man games to injury.

Said MacLean: "You have to hold the thought that it will serve us well down the road."

Urbom made the team out of training camp and played in six games before he was assigned to Albany. MacLean feels that experience should serve the 19-year-old well this time around.

"I hope so," he said. "He's been up here before so he knows what to expect. He'll get another opportunity tonight."