AVALANCHE (5-8-5) at DEVILS (8-7-2)
NEWARK, N.J. -- Colorado Avalanche forward Alex Tanguay isn't at all surprised by the impact Mike Cammalleri has made in his first season with the New Jersey Devils.
Tanguay, who is also playing a significant role with the Avalanche, was teammates with Cammalleri on the Calgary Flames for two seasons (2011-12, 2012-13) so he knows him well.
Cammalleri, who signed a five-year contract with the Devils worth a reported $25 million on July 1, has 11 points and a team-leading seven goals despite missing six games due to injury this season.
"He's got a great mind for the game and he has a great stick and he's always dangerous around the net," Tanguay said. "He's not the guy who will dominate the game but he's a guy that when he's around the net or in the opposing zone is always well placed. He's got a knack for scoring goals and he understands the game very well so I'm not surprised at all by how well he's played in Jersey."
The Avalanche will close out a four-game Eastern Conference road swing against the Devils at Prudential Center on Saturday. The Avalanche skated for about 40 minutes on Saturday morning. Devils coach Pete DeBoer opted to remain off the ice after the Devils 1-0 road victory against the Washington Capitals on Friday.
Tanguay, who has rebounded well after missing all but 16 games last season after having hip surgery, leads the Avalanche with seven goals. He was asked if he plans to say hello to Cammalleri at any point on Saturday.
"I guess we'll say 'Hi' at some point; maybe after we win I'll approach him," Tanguay said with a grin.
Tanguay, who has 10 points in 18 games, would prefer to downplay his solid start to the season.
"I don't think it's a great start; I've only got 10 points after 18 games," he said. "It's not like I'm breaking the bank or anything. I'm starting to feel better and started to find my legs."
Tanguay said he needed to re-establish some confidence after a long layoff following a tumultuous 2013-14 season.
"The first 10 games were extremely hard but I expected that coming off last year and not playing a lot," he said. "Now I'm starting to get power in my hip again, power in my legs, and hoping to get better. I want to help the team a little bit more."
Both teams are hoping to build upon solid efforts in previous matches. The Devils have won two straight and the Avalanche are coming off a 4-3 shootout victory against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.
"It was important to regroup and look at the things we could do better [against the Rangers], especially offensively," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "We know we need to drive that net more, need to get more traffic in front of the net. We need to be better on our back check. I think these are the things we did a lot better [against the Rangers]. That's the kind of plays we want to see more of and I think we could build off that win."
Goalie Cory Schneider will make his 18th straight start for the Devils after his 30-save shutout performance Friday against the Capitals. It's the second-longest stretch in franchise history behind Martin Brodeur's 19 straight from Oct. 6-Nov. 2, 2001, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Here are the projected lineups:
Ryan O'Reilly - Matt Duchene - Alex Tanguay
Gabriel Landeskog - John Mitchell - Jarome Iginla
Jamie McGinn - Nathan MacKinnon - Daniel Briere
Cody McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche - Maxime Talbot
Nick Holden - Zach Redmond
Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson
Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie
Scratched: Dennis Everberg
Injured: Patrick Bordeleau (back surgery), Brad Stuart (hamstring), Ryan Wilson (shoulder), Jesse Winchester (concussion)
Mike Cammalleri – Travis Zajac – Jaromir Jagr
Martin Havlat – Patrik Elias – Michael Ryder
Dainius Zubrus – Stephen Gionta – Steve Bernier
Tuomo Ruutu – Jacob Josefson – Jordin Tootoo
Andy Greene – Damon Severson
Eric Gelinas – Marek Zidlicky
Seth Helgeson – Adam Larsson
Scratched: Damien Brunner
Injured: Adam Henrique (lower body), Ryane Clowe (concussion), Jon Merrill (arm), Bryce Salvador (lower body)
Status report: Roy will keep the same lineup he assembled in the victory against the Rangers, including in goal where Semyon Varlamov will make his third straight start. … Devils GM Lou Lamoriello told NorthJersey.com prior to the win on Friday he doesn't expect any of his injured players to return on Saturday against the Avalanche.
Who's hot: Cammalleri has two goals and two assists, including goals in back-to-back games, since returning from a six-game absence with a jaw injury. … Tanguay, 34, has three goals and four points in the past five games.