newjerseydevils.com – Facing their first Atlantic Division opponent in almost three weeks, the Devils look to snap a two-game losing streak when they host the struggling Rangers tonight at Prudential Center (7 p.m., MSG Plus, WFAN 660 AM).
For the first time in 22 meetings with their Hudson River rivals, the Devils (7-5-2) will be without reigning Vezina Trophy winner Martin Brodeur, who suffered a torn bicep on Nov. 1.
Brodeur is 39-20-19 all-time against the Rangers with seven shutouts.
New Jersey has dropped three of four without Brodeur, and will likely turn to Kevin Weekes in net tonight. Weekes, a former Ranger, has taken over as the No. 1 goaltender and has posted a 2.65 goals-against average in three games.
Scott Clemmensen was the last netminder other than Brodeur to start against the Rangers. Currently the Devils' backup, Clemmensen made back-to-back starts versus New York on Nov. 3 and Nov. 5, 2005, dropping a pair of decisions to Weekes, who started both games for the Rangers.
Clemmensen made his season debut on Sunday, posting 26 saves in a 2-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
Zach Parise cut the Oilers' lead to one goal early in the third, but Edmonton rookie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers made 11 saves in the period and 37 for the game. The team's leading scorer with 11 goals, Parise has netted both of New Jersey's tallies in the last two games.
The Devils' struggles over the last four contests have been due more to a lack of offense than poor goaltending. They have scored two goals in the three losses since Brodeur went down, and their 37 goals this season are among the fewest in the conference.
"We played hard. You have a power play and you don't score on it, get some quality scoring chances," head coach Brent Sutter said after Sunday's loss. "They get the next power play and they go down and score. It puts them up 2-0. It's tough. You're battling, competing but try and do what you can."
The Devils will look compete against a Rangers team that has taken eight of the last nine meetings between the teams.
The one New Jersey victory during that stretch came April 6 at Prudential Center, 3-2 in a shootout that snapped the Rangers' seven-game win streak versus the Devils. New York took the first meeting this season 4-1 on Oct. 13 at MSG.
The Devils are expected to be without defenseman Paul Martin tonight. Martin, who led New Jersey defensemen with 32 points in 2007-08, has missed the last four games with upper-back soreness and was placed on injured reserve Monday.
The Rangers own the best record in the Eastern Conference, but have hit a rough patch of late.
New York (11-5-2) has gone 1-3-1 over its last five games. The Rangers managed a point in their last game Monday night but suffered a 3-2 shootout loss to Edmonton at Madison Square Garden.
New York outshot the Oilers 42-31 but was bested by Drouin-Deslauriers, who didn't allow a goal in the shootout. Chris Drury's goal 46 seconds into the third period tied it for the Rangers, who held a 20-5 edge in shots during the second but only scored once.
The Rangers have generated just six goals in their last four losses, including a pair of one-goal defeats.