Surging Devils persevering through injuries
Saturday, 11.07.2009 / 7:00 PM
NHL.comDEVILS (10-4-0) at SENATORS (7-4-2)
Last 10 --
New Jersey 8-2-0; Ottawa 5-3-2
Season series --
The first of four meetings between the clubs takes place at Scotiabank Place. Last season, the Devils dominated the series, winning all four games while outscoring the Senators 16-7. New Jersey earned one overtime victory and one win via a shootout.
Big Story --
The injuries just keep mounting for the Devils. After losing defensemen Paul Martin and Johnny Oduya and forward Jay Pandolfo last week, checking center Rob Niedermayer left Wednesday's victory over Washington with an upper-body injury early in the third period. The club continues to battle through the setbacks, however, and remains the NHL's only unbeaten team on the road (7-0-0). The Senators are 4-2-2 on home ice.
Much like the team did last season when Martin Brodeur
missed 50 games with an injury, the Devils are persevering once again in the absence of their top defenseman, Paul Martin, this season. In fact, fourth-year blue liner Andy Greene
, who has been working with Bryce Salvador
on the top defensive pair, has shown consistency and good decision-making while Martin and Oduya are on the mend. The franchise's all-time leading scorer, Patrik Elias
, returned to the lineup on Friday after sitting out the first 13 games following multiple surgeries to his hip and groin.
Center Jason Spezza returned to the lineup on Thursday and scored his first goal of the season with just 42.4 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Senators a 3-2 victory over Tampa Bay. While Spezza has just one goal for the season in 11 games, he also has 10 assists. Meanwhile, wing Chris Neil, who normally works the third line with Nick Foligno and Peter Regin, knocked Lightning rookie defenseman Victor Hedman from the game with a huge hit behind Tampa's net in the second period. For the season, Neil is ranked second in the League with 62 hits -- six behind leader Ryan Callahan of the Rangers.
"It was a momentum changer for us," Spezza said.
Who's Hot --
The move to insert wing Daniel Alfredsson at the point on the Senators' power-play seems to be making a difference for coach Cory Clouston. The Senators were 2-for-6 against the Lightning on Thursday and have now connected on 3 of their last 10 opportunities with the man advantage.
Injury Report --
The Senators will be without hard-hitting defenseman Anton Volchenkov
(elbow) until mid-November. The Devils are without forwards Jay Pandolfo (shoulder) and Rob Niedermayer (upper body) and defensemen Paul Martin (forearm) and Johnny Oduya (lower body).
Stat Pack -- Patrik Elias
, who will sit out the second night of a back-to-back situation, led the Devils with 3 goals and 8 points in 4 games against the Senators last season.
Puck Drop --
Devils goalie Martin Brodeur
will get the start between the pipes against Ottawa after backup Yann Danis made 23 saves to beat the Islanders on Friday. Brodeur needs one shutout to equal the NHL record of 103 established by Terry Sawchuk 30 years ago. Brodeur is 31-18-4 with 6 shutouts in his career against Ottawa.