The sinking Devils play their first game under new coaches Scott Stevens and Adam Oates (and Lou Lamoriello) following Pete DeBoer’s dismissal on Friday.
Not only have the Devils struggled, having won 12 of their first 36 games, but they are also down to bare bones. Patrik Elias, Michael Ryder and Scott Clemmensen have the mumps, and Martin Havlat is out tonight with the flu. Ex-Ranger Ryane Clowe (yet another concussion) is out, as is Bryce Salvador. Dainius Zubrus is expected to return after missing eight games. But the Devils are down to 11 healthy forwards and seven defensemen.
New Jersey’s Scott (No) Gomez plays his 1,000th game.
The Rangers return from the holiday break on a seven-game winning, their longest since 1974-75 (which means I haven’t covered an eight-game winning streak by the Rangers, LOL).
Tonight closes a three-game homestand. The Rangers play five of their next six and eight of the next 10 on the road, starting in Dallas Monday.
Henrik Lundqvist plays his 600th NHL game. He’s on a six-game winning streak and will face Cory Schneider. This is the second meeting, with the Rangers winning in Newark on a Kevin Klein overtime winner.
At the morning skate it appeard that J.T. Miller will come out for Lee Stempniak, who returns from the mumps and one healthy scratch, and that John Moore replaces Matt Hunwick on defense. Alain Vigneault said his lineup wasn’t entirely set, though, and that everybody will take warmups before a final decision is made.
Wonder if the Garden fans will throw hats onto the ice on Rick Nash’s first shift, since he was awarded his first Rangers’ hat trick the day after the team’s last game?
After the game, vote for the Three Rangers Stars in the poll on the left.