NEWARK, N.J. -- Ryane Clowe is out. Patrik Elias is sick and doubtful to play Saturday against the New York Rangers. Damien Brunner is a gametime decision as he deals with what coach Peter DeBoer called "some nagging stuff." Oh, and the New Jersey Devils are the only team in the NHL without a win so far in the 2013-14 season.
The players in the Devils' dressing room are doing all they can not to stay positive. They think they can start working their way out of this mess Saturday at Prudential Center.
"We can't [feel sorry for ourselves]. We need a win," Devils center Travis Zajac told NHL.com. "That's got to be our focus. No matter who is in the lineup we have to be ready to play. Everyone has injuries. You look at the Rangers, they've got guys out. That's going to happen throughout the year. We have to make sure we're prepared and ready with whoever is in the lineup."
But the Rangers are coming off an impressive 2-0 victory at the Washington Capitals while the Devils are coming off a 5-2 loss against the Ottawa Senators, which was preceded by a 3-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Prior to that, New Jersey blew leads in losses to the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.
They're also giving up 3.43 goals per game (26th in the League) and scoring just 1.86 (27th). Despite those troubling statistics, the team is looking forward rather than backwards.
"I don't spend a lot of energy looking in the rearview mirror on why we're sitting where we're sitting, other than the symptoms of our play on a nightly basis," DeBoer said. "I don't know why. Why do you go through stretches of the season at different points where you lose games? For me it's how are we fixing it tonight and moving forward. That's where we're spending our energy."
The Devils think they fixed some of their problems Thursday in Ottawa, when despite falling behind 2-0 early in the first period, they still managed to generate scoring chances and outshoot the Senators, 42-23. They had been outshot in each of the four previous games.
"That was because we were aggressive, we were on the forecheck, we played with a lot more speed," Zajac said. "You have to play that way. You have to go north, win your battles and see where that takes you."
It may sound strange considering they lost the game 5-2, but the Devils hope to build on that performance in Ottawa when they face the Rangers on Saturday. They think that game against the Senators gave them an idea of what they have to do to establish the identity they want to have on a consistent basis.
"We were right there in Ottawa," Devils center Adam Henrique told NHL.com. "We didn't give up. We had a lot of chances. We got robbed once, a few unlucky bounced here and there. I thought the game was there, and we have to find a way to build off that [Saturday night].
"For the first number of games we've played that way for a certain amount of time in a game and then we had a lapse here and there and it has cost us so far, a couple of times late in the game. We have to keep building off what we've been doing and just find a way here."
They'll try to find a way with Cory Schneider in goal. Mark Fayne will play over Adam Larsson on the blue line. If Elias can't play, Rostislav Olesz will be inserted onto his line with Henrique and Jaromir Jagr and will also likely play on the power play. But if Brunner can't play, DeBoer might have to shuffle the lines to have Andrei Loktionov come in and play center.
"You've got to persevere," DeBoer said. "We've got some depth here. Someone's misfortune is someone else's opportunity."
Here are the projected lineups for the Devils: