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Boucher looking forward to facing Wings

by Mike G. Morreale / New Jersey Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils rookie forward Reid Boucher is champing at the bit for an opportunity to play against the team he grew up idolizing while growing up in Lansing, Mich.

The Devils host the Detroit Red Wings on Friday at Prudential Center.

"I live about an hour from Detroit so it was tough to actually get to games, but I watched the Red Wings on TV a lot," Boucher said. "I enjoyed watching guys like Brett Hull and Steve Yzerman. Just a lot of special players who have been winners. That was fun to watch."

Boucher said Hull was his favorite player. Hull played three seasons with the Red Wings near the end of his Hall of Fame career.

"Hull was always my favorite player; I feel like I play like him but obviously am not as good as him," he said. "I probably don't have the shot he had."

Boucher will play his second NHL game Friday after being recalled from the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Albany. He said he will continue to work as hard as he can to remain with the big club.

"We're just hoping for not a big drop-off in his play," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "These are pros; they aren't 16, 17 years old anymore. He's excited [to be playing Detroit] but I don't think we need to temper those emotions. He's obviously going to want to play well in front of friends and family back home and that's a good thing. I don't want to mess with that."

The 20-year-old forward, who skated with center Andrei Loktionov and right wing Michael Ryder during the morning skate Friday, had an assist and scored the only New Jersey goal in a shootout during a 4-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday at Prudential Center.

Forward Damien Brunner will be a healthy scratch against the team he once played for. Brunner, who had 12 goals and 26 points in 44 games with the Red Wings last season, was signed by the Devils to a two-year, $5 million contract in September. He had three goals in the first three games of the season but has one goal in 23 games since then.

"The style of play is a huge difference system-wise [between Detroit and New Jersey]; it's like night and day," Brunner said. "You have to find your spot in any system and I'm learning still, trying to get those openings.

"I had a great time [in Detroit] and obviously I'm happy I had a chance to play in the NHL with a great organization. I still have a lot of friends there like [Justin] Abdelkader and Pavel [Datsyuk]."

DeBoer, who has scratched Brunner on more than one occasion this season, feels it all comes down to production when given an opportunity.

"He's a scorer, and if you're scoring you can overlook some of the other areas of the ice where maybe he's not as strong. But when you're not scoring those things become magnified," DeBoer said. "And after 10 or 12 games, eventually it gets to a point where something has to break."

In other news, forward Ryane Clowe, who has missed the past 23 games with a head injury, skated with the team in the morning. There is no timetable for his return to the lineup.

"He's been cleared to skate and get in practice and take contact, so that's the first step of a few here before he's game-ready," DeBoer said. "If we had a full practice I believe he would have been out there too."

Goalie Cory Schneider will get the start against the Red Wings. He is 1-1-0 with a 1.32 goals-against average and .961 save percentage in three career starts against Detroit. DeBoer said he hasn't made a decision on his starter against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

Here is the Devils' expected lineup against the Red Wings:

Dainius Zubrus - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr
Adam Henrique - Patrik Elias - Steve Bernier
Reid Boucher - Andrei Loktionov - Michael Ryder
Tim Sestito - Jacob Josefson - Cam Janssen

Anton Volchenkov - Marek Zidlicky
Mark Fayne - Andy Greene
Eric Gelinas - Jon Merrill

Cory Schneider
Martin Brodeur

Scratched: Mattias Tedenby, Damien Brunner, Peter Harrold

Injured: Adam Larsson (lower body), Bryce Salvador (foot), Ryan Carter (lower body), Stephen Gionta (ankle), Ryane Clowe (head)

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