Devils bring new-look lines into Boston
Dainius Zubrus, who had been centering Alexei Ponikarovsky and Steve Bernier, was moved back to right wing on a line with Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora. Jacob Josefson was bumped up to the third line between Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson.
"I think the Vancouver game [on Feb. 24], we at least created some opportunities," Coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think the Ranger game, we didn't get a lot going, so we'll make some changes and see if that works."
The expectation is that the Sykora-Elias-Zubrus reunion will recreate some of the offensive chemistry they generated during the first half.
"They're comfortable playing together; they like playing together," said DeBoer. "They complement each other, and it wasn't just a week or two of success – those guys were good for months. I'm confident that group will work."
Bernier practiced on the fourth line with Eric Boulton, Ryan Carter and Cam Janssen.
"I'm hoping we don't lose the identity on the third and fourth line that we've started to build, and I don't think we will with moving Jo and Clarky there," DeBoer said.
The Devils (35-23-4) have dropped three in a row, but are looking for their first win in four meetings with the defending Stanley Cup champs.
"We're playing some good hockey," said Martin Brodeur, who will start. "We just have to keep believing in what we're doing and we're going to come out of it, as far as getting bounces and getting calls on our side. We're doing the right things to win hockey games. I think we're close, we're doing some good things."
Boston was shut out at home Tuesday, falling, 1-0, to Ottawa. They've outscored the Devils by a combined 14-5 in the season series.
"It's a big challenge," Brodeur said. "For us, we've gotten it handed to us three times against these guys, so it's kind of nice to go in and measure ourselves for the last time against one of the top teams in the East."
Johan Hedberg will be in goal Friday when the Devils visit Washington. The four-game trip concludes Sunday on Long Island.
New Jersey returns home Tuesday to host the Rangers.