With or without Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik, the Devils' game plan remains the same.
Head coach Brent Sutter said Tuesday that while some players will need to adjust to the new lineup, his team's strategy will not. New Jersey is home for six of its next seven games beginning Wednesday against the Dallas Stars
"We need to play a certain way, and that's how we have to play," Sutter said. "Certain guys get put in situations that they might not have been put into as much, like Mike Rupp moving out of position. But it doesn't change the way we have to play as a group, no."
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond was called up from Lowell (AHL) to replace Holik and began practicing with the team Monday. He joined fellow rookie Petr Vrana
, who filled in for Rolston Saturday in Washington and picked up first NHL goal.
Letourneau-Leblond is expected to see time at left wing on the fourth line. Rupp will move to the middle with David Clarkson
slotted on the right side.
There is no timetable for Rolston's return from the ankle sprain he sustained Oct. 16 at Atlanta. Holik, meanwhile, was set to undergo surgery Tuesday on his broken pinky finger and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks.
Dallas practiced Tuesday afternoon at AmeriHealth Pavilion following their 2-1 win over the Rangers on Monday. New Jersey prepares to host the Stars for just the second time in five seasons, including the Devils' 4-2 win last November. The teams will meet again on Dec. 31 at Dallas.
"They're a disciplined hockey team," Sutter said of the Stars, who as of Tuesday were 10th in the West with a record of 2-3-1. "Their team game is very solid. They don't give up a whole lot and they're good defensively. Their style hasn't really changed a whole lot in the last four, five years. It's a patient game."
Sutter commented that many players look forward to a break from the usual grind of division play with contests against less familiar foes. Teams have seen their games against divisional opponents reduced from eight to six in order to accomodate at least one match-up between every team. Three interconference "at-large" games also were added.
"You ask players, and a lot of them would like to play other teams," Sutter said. "It's a change... It doesn't change the way we play, but they're playing someone that they don't see very much. I think there's excitement when they get a chance to play teams outside the conference." NJD NOTES
Wednesday's game is Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night
at Prudential Center. Fans can join the fight with special Hockey Fights Cancer
gear on shop.nhl.com.