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Elias possible for Friday's game vs. Kings

by Staff Writer / New Jersey Devils

The Devils could have Patrik Elias back in the lineup for Friday's game against Los Angeles.

Elias practiced with the team on Thursday, centering a line with Damien Brunner and Michael Ryder. He missed the last six games with an upper body injury.

"Not bad," Elias said afterward. "I felt OK out there. Obviously that's my first decent practice in two weeks, so I felt that in different ways."

Elias has been sidelined since Nov. 2, when he left pregame warmups before the Devils hosted Philadelphia.

"It started getting better after five, six days, then I tried to skate a couple of days and it started getting tighter and tighter again," he said. "I took a couple of days off to calm the muscles down and everything. It's better the last couple of days, no question."

Elias got off to a quick start with seven points (3g-4a) in his first 10 games, including two power-play assists and two shorthanded points (1g-1a).

The Devils (6-7-5) have notched back-to-back wins, including Tuesday's 3-2 triumph over the Rangers. Winners of three of their last four (3-0-1), they face the Kings on Friday for the first time since the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, then welcome Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Elias has enjoyed seeing the team turn things around.

"The guys have been playing well, obviously," he said. "The last few games, they're playing good out there. It's tough to play against them. They're creating chances. The young guys, D men, are stepping up. They're fun to watch now."

Head coach Peter DeBoer will be eager to get Elias back in action, but not before Elias is ready.

"It was nice to have him back at practice," DeBoer said. "We'll see how he feels [Friday] morning before we make any decisions."

DeBoer has also yet to decide on Stephen Gionta, who practiced Thursday after missing two games.

Anton Volchenkov, who did not skate, will miss his first game since suffering a lower body injury against the Rangers.

"I thought he was positive [Thursday] morning about how it felt, but not close to ready to skate," DeBoer said.

Mark Fayne will replace Volchenkov in the lineup after being a scratch in the last four games.

Thursday's forward lines:

Dainius Zubrus - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr
Damien Brunner
- Patrik Elias - Michael Ryder
Adam Henrique
- Andrei Loktionov - Steve Bernier
Ryan Carter
- Stephen Gionta - Cam Janssen

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