Brodeur returns tonight vs. Oilers
Rolston back, Langenbrunner out (upper body)
Brodeur missed two games to recover from a bruised right elbow suffered at Chicago on Nov. 3. After practicing with the team for the first time yesterday, it's all systems go for Brodeur, who's 8-6-2 with a 2.34 goals-against average in his career against the Oilers.
The Devils (4-10-2) dropped to 0-5-2 at Prudential Center following Wednesday's 5-4 shootout loss to Buffalo.
"Tonight's a great oppportunity to get at it," Brodeur said. "Edmonton played last night (a 6-2 loss in Detroit) and we have to try to jump on them as much as we can. We have to get our own excitement in here, especially in this buiding where we've played poorly so far. Definitely looking forward to a good game."
Brodeur admitted that expectations were high entering the season. It hasn't been easy seeing the group struggle.
"It's definitely a difficult time," he said. "We expected a lot better things early on. But the fact is, it didn't happen. The mood of the team, for what's going on, is pretty good. Again, we know there's a lot of real estate to cover here. We have to get going sooner than later, that's for sure.
"It's definitely something difficult to look up at the standings and have a stiff neck because we're so low. Hopefully we'll get back where we're supposed to be."
Though some might try to bury the Devils after their poor start, Brodeur said that can be the price of success. The team has qualified for the playoffs in 13 straight seasons and has captured four division titles in the past five years.
"When you’ve been so successful through the years, people love to take you down," Brodeur told newjerseydevils.com. "That’s just the nature of the beast. Whenever someone’s here they’re happy about our misery because we’ve been successful for so long. It wouldn’t be normal if people didn’t think things like that about us. I’ll leave it at that."
Maybe the turnaround will come on home ice. Brodeur said good clubs must perform in their own building.
"You play to get yourself into the playoffs and get home ice advantage," he said. "You need to be comfortable playing at home and that hasn’t been the case. It’s definitely something that we’re not happy about. Today is a new day, and hopefully we’ll have a good effort. We’re finding a team here (Edmonton) that’s been struggling a little bit, and we need to jump on them as quick as we can. They have a lot of young talent, so we can’t give them any kind of excitement to their game. We really need to play well defensively and get our opportunities because they’ll be there."
Jamie Langenbrunner, who went into the boards heavily on Wednesday and finished the game, will not play tonight. Alexander Vasyunov replaced Langenbrunner on the top line with Ilya Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac for today's morning skate.
"Jamie’s still sore, upper body," said head coach John MacLean. "He went in there awkwardly, so he needs to take another day."
Dainius Zubrus will have the returning Brian Rolston on his line with David Clarkson. He agrees the Devils have earned some criticism but can still get back on track. Rolston has been out since the second game of the season.
"We need to put some winning streaks together," Zubrus said. "We can’t even win two games in a row right now. That’s what I was excited for last game, I thought maybe we could get a winning streak here a little bit, but we can’t seem to do it and that’s all it is. You have to win one, then you have to win the next one. I don’t want to say every game is the biggest game, but every game that we don’t win, we’re going into a bigger hole. There’s a lot of work ahead of us, but I think it’s definitely doable."
Rolston has been eager to contribute since his sports hernia surgery last month.
"Everything went according to plan, so I couldn’t be happier about that," Rolston said. "I got back in a timely fashion. I’ll be able to come in at a time that I think I can help the team. That’s what I hope to do."
He added that the recipe for coming back after a long layoff calls for keeping it simple.
"I just have to go out, work hard and get my shots," he said. "I need to play the way I play and help out any way I possibly can. I’m back in to play and I can’t wait. It’s going to take me a little bit, probably, but I’ll get back there."
Zubrus expects Rolston to make an impact on the ice and in the dressing room after missing 14 games.
"Nevermind that he’s a good player and he’s going to be on my line," said Zubrus. "His weapon’s obviously his shot, and any time he winds her up, you want to go to the net. Hopefully there’s no rebound. But at the same time, his experience and just his… he’s the most positive guy in the League. He’s just positive to be around. He doesn’t get rattled by too many things. He keeps it real every single moment. I think that’s good for everybody."
MacLean on life as a rookie head coach:
"I’ve had some experiences this year," he said. "All things, not everything you expect, but I’m OK and as a team and as a coaching staff, we’ll get this going in the right direction."
On the learning curve behind the bench:
"It’s not my first year being around the pro game, so you understand that things happen. You have to stay as level as you can, keep coming to work every day and keep putting the time in. It will turn."
Brodeur had a small black pad stitched onto the right arm of his chest protector for extra coverage near the injured area.
• Defenseman Olivier Magnan missed the morning skate to be with his wife, who gave birth last night. He's expected to be available tonight.
• Defenseman Anssi Salmela practiced yesterday and skated this morning. He has not played this season due to offseason knee surgery.
• Mike McKenna, who was recalled to back up Johan Hedberg on Wednesday, has been assigned to Albany (AHL).
Ilya Kovalchuk Travis Zajac Alexander Vasyunov
Patrik Elias Jason Arnott Mattias Tedenby
Brian Rolston Dainius Zubrus David Clarkson
Rod Pelley Adam Mair Stephen Gionta
Defense: Andy Greene-Anton Volchenkov, Colin White-Henrik Tallinder, Matt Taormina-Anssi Salmela
Martin Brodeur, Johan Hedberg