Last 10: New Jersey 6-3-1; Detroit 5-4-1
Season series: This is the second and final meeting of the 2010-11 season between these teams. Tomas Holmstrom and Danny Cleary scored before the Dec. 11 game in New Jersey was two minutes old and Detroit cruised to a 4-1 victory.
Big story: Holmstrom and Cleary will both miss the rematch with injuries, as will Chris Osgood, the winning goalie in the first game. The Red Wings have also been without star forward Pavel Datsyuk, and their depleted corps at forward could be pointed to as one reason why, although they continue to lead the Central Division, they have one fewer win in the past 10 games than the last-place Devils.
Devils: A horrific first three months buried New Jersey in the standings to the point where even its current 6-0-1 run hasn't been enough to get out of the basement, although the Devils are creeping ever closer to the Oilers and the Atlantic Division rival Islanders. This will provide another test to see how far the team really has come. In their last game, the Devils used power-play goals by Brian Rolston and Patrik Elias to open up a 4-1 lead en route to a 5-2 win over the Panthers on Sunday.
"Right now, we just want to come out with as many points as we can," said Jason Arnott, who scored twice against Florida. "We're a longshot [to make the playoffs] right now, but it doesn't matter who we play, we're at the bottom. Every team we play is better than us. We have to go into the building thinking 'This is the best team in the League.' That's what we have to do."
Red Wings: At least Detroit is getting plenty of rest during a point in the season when even the players who are in the lineup are undoubtedly a little banged-up. The Red Wings last played on Saturday against the Blackhawks, and after the All-Star Weekend they don't have another game until they face the Senators next Wednesday. Cory Emmerton, called up due to all the injuries, opened the scoring in his NHL debut against Chicago, but the defending Stanley Cup champs took over from there and dealt Detroit a 4-1 setback.
"The great thing about this League is each and every day, it's an evolution and somebody is trying to take your job," coach Mike Babcock said. "If you want your own job, you have to keep it."
Who's hot: Rolston (2-4-6) and Elias (3-2-5) have four-game points streaks for the Devils. Martin Brodeur is 5-0-1 in his last six starts, allowing two goals or fewer four times.
Injury report: New Jersey hopes to have forwards Nick Palmieri (upper body) and Vladimir Zharkov (flu-like symptoms) back after they missed two weekend games. Defenseman Colin White is expected to miss a second straight game with a lower-body injury. Fellow blueliner Matthew Corrente is out with a sprained left shoulder. Forward Zach Parise (knee) and defensemen Matt Taormina (ankle) and Bryce Salvador (concussion) are on injured reserve.
Detroit forward Valtteri Filppula is day-to-day with flu-like symptoms. Holmstrom remains out with a broken hand. Osgood (sports hernia), Cleary (ankle) and Datsyuk (hand/wrist) are all on injured reserve, as are forward Mike Modano (wrist) and defenseman Brad Stuart (jaw).
Stat pack: The Devils have jumped out to 2-0 leads after the first period in each game during their current run of four consecutive victories. … Emmerton became the fourth player on the Red Wings to score his first NHL goal this season, following Tomas Tatar, Jakub Kindl and Jan Mursak.
Puck drop: Ilya Kovalchuk finished with a goal and 2 assists to earn first star honors against the Panthers. The Devils still trail his former team, the Thrashers, by 20 points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but Kovalchuk isn't concerning himself with that at this point.
"We're far away from where we want to be, but you never know," he said. "We just have to keep working like that and we'll see what’s going to happen."