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At the Rink: Wild at Devils

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils goaltender Corey Schneider will start his 16th straight game and coach Peter DeBoer had several lineup changes to report prior to the opening faceoff against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday at Prudential Center.

Forward Martin Havlat, who was removed from injured reserve earlier in the day, will resume his normal role alongside center Patrik Elias and right wing Michael Ryder.

Defenseman Bryce Salvador is out after sustaining a lower-body injury in a 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Monday. He will be replaced in the lineup by Seth Helgeson, who makes his NHL debut and will wear No. 25.

Schneider, who signed a seven-year contract extension worth a reported $42 million in July, has been pulled on four occasions this season, including twice in the past three games. He is 6-6-2 with a 3.00 goals-against average and .901 save percentage this season. He made 19 saves in the loss to the Bruins.

DeBoer expects to see Schneider at his best in his second game on consecutive nights.

"He's our guy and when you have a guy who is struggling a little bit, you have two choices," DeBoer said. "You either sit him and hope that taking a step back fixes it, or let him play through it and allow him to find his game again. My history with Cory is that he's a bounce-back type guy. I think we're going to see a good game out of him."

DeBoer did not provide any information on who Helgeson would partner with to begin the game. The 24-year-old native of Faribault, Minn., was a fourth-round pick (No. 114) of the Devils in 2009. He had two assists and 11 penalty minutes in 12 games with the Albany Devils of the American Hockey League this season.

"He's got fresh legs, which is good," DeBoer said of Helgeson. "We're excited to see him. He had a great training camp; he's a big (6-foot-4, 215 pounds), physical guy with a good stick and we don't have a lot of physical defensemen back there. It's nice to have a guy in the minors who plays a similar game [to Salvador]."

The Wild enter the game having lost three straight and coach Mike Yeo said they must concentrate on the things they need to do to improve and not so much who is starting in goal for the Devils.

"We'll have a scouting report [on Kinkaid] but we just have to be focused on ourselves," Yeo said. "We're aware of what they're going to do but we have to make sure we're focused on ourselves, whether that's the goalie or that's the team. There's reasons why we're giving up more goals than we should and reasons why we're not scoring as many goals as we should, and it all revolves around us so that'll be our focus."

The Wild, who have been outscored 11-2 the past three games, will be without forward Zach Parise (concussion, two games missed) and defenseman Jared Spurgeon (upper body, four games) due to injuries. Parise spent seven seasons with the Devils, scoring 194 goals and 410 points in 502 games, before signing a free-agent contract with the Wild in July 2012.

"I know for a fact he would have loved to have been in the lineup to get things going in the right direction and he had so many great memories here," Yeo said. "This team was such a big part of his career so I think it was difficult for him not to be in."

Parise and Spurgeon traveled with the Wild to New Jersey but wore red non-contact jerseys during the morning skate. Goaltender Josh Harding, who sustained a broken foot before the start of training camp, was also practicing in a red jersey. Matt Cooke (lower body), who has missed the past five games, did not travel with the team and Yeo admitted that the injury "is not coming along the way we had hoped."

Goalie Darcy Kuemper, who has never faced the Devils, is expected to make his second straight start. Kuemper is 6-4-0 with a 1.99 GAA, .916 save percentage and is tied for the League lead with three shutouts in 10 games. The Wild are 3-0-1 in their past four games against the Devils, outscoring them 13-7 in that stretch.

Here are the projected lineups:


Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle

Thomas Vanek - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Justin Fontaine - Kyle Brodziak - Nino Niederreiter

Ryan Carter - Erik Haula - Stephane Veilleux

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Nate Prosser

Keith Ballard - Jonathon Blum

Darcy Kuemper

Niklas Backstrom

Scratched: Matt Dumba, Christian Folin

Injured: Matt Cooke (lower body), Zach Parise (concussion), Jared Spurgeon (upper body), Josh Harding (foot)


Michael Cammalleri - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr

Martin Havlat - Patrik Elias - Michael Ryder

Dainius Zubrus - Jacob JosefsonDamien Brunner

Tuomo Ruutu - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Andy GreeneDamon Severson

Seth HelgesonMarek Zidlicky

Eric GelinasAdam Larsson

Cory Schneider

Keith Kinkaid

Injured: Adam Henrique (lower body), Jon Merrill (arm), Ryan Clowe (head), Bryce Salvador (lower body)

Scratched: Jordin Tootoo

Status report: Cammalleri said Monday that watching Zajac and Jagr play together during his recovery from a jaw injury gave him a better perspective on how to approach the top line with those players. He responded with two assists and three shots on goal in the loss to the Bruins. … The return of Havlat might jump start Elias, who hasn't scored in 14 straight games. … It appears Yeo will replace Dumba and Folin on defense with Blum and Prosser. Blum would be making his season debut. … Carter, who spent three seasons with the Devils before signing a one-year, two-way contract with the Wild in October, has five assists and 14 penalty minutes in 12 games. "It's nice to see some familiar faces," Carter said. "The one thing you could always say about New Jersey is that they have quality people in the organization; it was nice to see the training staff and some of the players."

Who's hot: Zidlicky has two goals and four points in the past five games. … Vanek has one goal, five points and 12 shots on goal in the past six games.

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