New Jersey Devils look to break losing streak; return home to face Wild.


The New Jersey Devils return home tonight to face the Minnesota Wild in the second game of a back-to-back. Last night the Devils fell 4-2 to the Boston Bruins which was their fourth straight defeat. They are playing a terrible brand of hockey right now so hopefully returning home will provide a spark. Minnesota is a tough team to play against, but they are a much better home team than a road team. At home Minnesota is 5-1-0 but they are only 2-5-0 on the road, a stat that plays into the Devils’ favor tonight. Another thing that helps the Devils is that their former captain, Zach Parise, is injured and should not play tonight. The crowd will be disappointed not to see Parise, but the Devils won’t be. Parise is one of the best players and workers in the league and the Devils need all the help they can get tonight. Old friend Ryan Carter should be in the lineup, however, which will be nice to see.

The Devils did not skate this morning and head coach Peter DeBoer will not have media availability until 4:45 PM, so it’s unknown who will play tonight. All we can do is speculate at this point.

Who Should Be in Net?

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Cory Schneider has started all 15 games this season and it would not be surprising one bit if DeBoer decided to give him number 16 tonight, although that decision would be a terrible one. Schneider needs a day off – he needed a day off a week ago. In his first season as the undisputed number one goalie, it’s crazy that Schneider is the only goaltender this season to play in every one of his team’s games. The Devils had a pretty spaced out schedule in October so it made sense that Schneider would play every game. Now that the schedule is getting more condensed with a plethora of back-to-back matchups, Schneider needs to rest both physcially and mentally. The Devils called up a very capable backup Keith Kinkaid last week and he needs to play tonight against the Wild.

Any Injured Players Returning?

The only injured player that appears to have a shot to play tonight is Martin Havlat. Havlat skated on his own this morning and was close to playing last night, so it’s very possible that he could lace up his skates this evening. The Devils are hush hush when it comes to injuries and it’s possible any of the other injured players could return as well. It doesn’t appear that Adam Henrique, Ryane Clowe or Jon Merrill will play tonight and a call-up from Albany is unlikely, but anything can happen with this team. The Devils need Havlat to play tonight and spark the offense, just like Mike Cammalleri did last night. Cammalleri is the key to the Zajac line like Havlat is the key to the Elias line. Having Havlat play with Patrik Elias would be a huge boost for a forward group that has struggled recently.

What Will the Combinations Look Like?

Last night, the only line that produced for the Devils was the trio of Cammalleri, Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr. It was a flawed group from the beginning with all the injuries and mismatched combinations to start the game. Tuomo Ruutu on the second line over Damien Brunner, Jordin Tootoo on the third line over Dainius Zubrus, and so on. Getting Havlat back will make the second line much more solid, and allow a pretty good third line to be dressed as well. More concerning is on defense, especially the pairing of Marek Zidlicky and Bryce Salvador. Those two are a disaster together and need to be split up. The problem with that is, since Jon Merrill is injured, there’s really nothing DeBoer can do with them. Andy Greene and Damon Severson shouldn’t be messed with and having Zidlicky play with Eric Gelinas is a disaster within itself. The best thing to do would be bench Salvador and call up Seth Helgeson from Albany, but that’s a pipe dream.