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Hedberg in, Gelinas to debut vs. Pens

Thursday, 04.25.2013 / 3:13 PM / News
By Mike G. Morreale  - NHL.com Staff Writer
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Hedberg in, Gelinas to debut vs. Pens

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils goalie Johan Hedberg will make his first start in over a month on Thursday when his team plays host to the Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins in the final game of the season at Prudential Center.

Hedberg, who is making his first start since a March 19 loss to the New York Rangers, is 5-9-3 with a 2.73 goals-against average and .886 save percentage in 17 games this season. In 10 career appearances against the Penguins, Hedberg is 3-5-1 with 2.84 GAA and .900 save percentage.

"It's been a while now since I last played, so it's nice to get one in and set up for next year," Hedberg told NHL.com. "We're playing for pride now. The fans have been great all year and coming to every game. That's really what we're playing for tonight … to show our appreciation for what they did for us."

Martin Brodeur, who had started the previous 16 straight (5-7-4), is expected to return between the pipes on Saturday in the team's season finale at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers.

If the Rangers defeat Carolina in Raleigh on Thursday, they would clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A loss could open the door for the Winnipeg Jets to at least pull even in points for the eighth and final playoff spot. If that were the case, the Devils might possibly have a say in whether or not the Rangers qualify.

After sitting out as a healthy scratch in a victory over the Canadiens on Tuesday, center Adam Henrique will return to the lineup to face the Penguins. Defenseman Eric Gelinas will also be making his National Hockey League debut.

Gelinas, the Devils' 2009 second-round pick (No. 54), missed almost two months of the season after taking a puck to the mouth during a preseason game with the Albany Devils of the American Hockey League on Oct. 6.

Not only did Gelinas lose several teeth, but he also sustained a broken lower jaw on the play.

"It's nice to get a start, especially against a team like this with big stars … it'll be a good challenge," Gelinas said. "I'm not overly offensive, but I can bring some offense and think I have a good shot. I worked a lot on my defense this year and I think I improved a lot from last year. I'm not overly physical, but I'm not afraid to throw my body around."

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound lefty, who will play alongside Peter Harrold, was recalled by the Devils from Albany on Tuesday. He returned to Albany's lineup on Nov. 25 and has since produced six goals and 22 points in 57 games.

Gelinas didn't seem overly concerned when asked about possibly getting hit in the jaw on Thursday.

"The dentist told me I could get hit again and, since there are so many micro-fractures, that [something could happen], but it's not something I think about," Gelinas said. "If it happens, it happens, but it's the game of hockey. There aren't too many guys with their teeth still in, so I guess it's part of the game."

Here is how the Devils might line up against the Penguins on Thursday:

Patrik Elias - Travis Zajac - David Clarkson

Adam Henrique - Andrei Loktionov - Ilya Kovalchuk

Dainius Zubrus - Jacob Josefson - Steve Sullivan

Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Anton Volchenkov - Marek Zidlicky

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson

Eric Gelinas - Peter Harrold

Johan Hedberg

Martin Brodeur

Scratched: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Alexander Urbom, Krystofer Barch, Mark Fayne, Henrik Tallinder

Injured: Bryce Salvador (thumb/wrist).

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 PIT 32 22 6 4 102 72 48
2 NYI 33 23 10 0 104 91 46
3 MTL 34 21 11 2 92 83 44
4 TBL 35 20 11 4 113 93 44
5 DET 34 17 8 9 94 84 43
6 TOR 34 19 12 3 114 102 41
7 NYR 31 17 10 4 93 81 38
8 WSH 32 16 10 6 95 85 38
9 BOS 34 17 14 3 86 88 37
10 FLA 31 14 9 8 69 79 36
11 OTT 33 14 13 6 89 92 34
12 PHI 33 13 14 6 92 99 32
13 CBJ 32 14 15 3 79 102 31
14 NJD 35 12 17 6 77 102 30
15 BUF 34 13 18 3 66 109 29
16 CAR 33 9 20 4 68 92 22

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 28 9 11 0 20
J. Jagr 34 5 15 -11 20
M. Zidlicky 35 4 13 -5 17
M. Cammalleri 23 11 4 0 15
M. Ryder 33 4 10 -1 14
P. Elias 29 4 9 -16 13
D. Severson 32 4 8 -4 12
E. Gelinas 28 4 6 2 10
A. Greene 35 0 9 -3 9
T. Zajac 27 4 4 -6 8
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Kinkaid 1 1 2 .939 1.75
C. Schneider 11 16 3 .915 2.57