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Devils' Elias to make season debut vs. Blue Jackets

by Mike G. Morreale /

BLUE JACKETS (8-14-0) at DEVILS (11-8-1)


NEWARK, N.J. -- Left wing Patrik Elias will make his season debut for the New Jersey Devils against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday at Prudential Center.

The Blue Jackets are expected to get two key players back in their lineup in centers Brandon Dubinsky and Alexander Wennberg, who have each missed the past six games with injury.

Elias is returning from a right knee injury. He joined the Devils for their three-game Western Canada road trip last week and for a second straight practice on Wednesday served as left wing on the third line alongside center Jacob Josefson and right wing Stefan Matteau.

"There's always some adjustments, on the forecheck and in the neutral zone, but I think the defense zone, a majority of the time, it's the same," Elias said. "I think I can grasp that pretty well but most of [adjusting] will be in the neutral zone; where to go and how to react and when to move.

"It's going to be a matter of talking to [Josefson] and him talking to me and letting me know where I'm supposed to go and do, and I'll just go with it and watch every shift and what the guys are doing."

Elias, who had 13 goals and 34 points in 69 games in 2014-15, is the Devils' all-time leader with 406 goals, 611 assists and 1,017 points in 1,224 games. He has four goals and 17 points in 18 games against the Blue Jackets.

Devils coach John Hynes is excited to have one of his veteran leaders back in the lineup.

"We're getting a guy who has played in the League a long time and we know he's in good shape and I think just getting that timing back and getting used to a game," Hynes said. "That's something that any player must get used to, but as a guy with his hockey smarts and experience, he should have no problem."

Dubinsky, who has 14 goals and 30 points in 39 games against the Devils, missed the past six games with an infected elbow.

"It's healed nicely and quicker than I anticipated," Dubinsky said. "I feel good on the ice and excited to get back in the lineup. When you get an infection like that it's just about the wound closing and not risking another infection. The doctors and trainers feel like it's closed enough that I won't risk that. It was nothing structural, so I feel good."

Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella knows Dubinsky's compete level is infectious, particularly in the faceoff circle. Dubinsky has won 46.6 percent of his faceoffs this season.

"He just wants to play and he's contagious with regard to how hard he plays, so I'm looking forward to getting him back," Tortorella said. "Dubinsky is a bit of a dog on a bone on faceoffs, so I'll be able to use him in a lot of different situations that way."

Wennberg has been out with a foot injury. The Blue Jackets placed right wing Rene Bourque (upper body) and defenseman Cody Goloubef (broken jaw) on injured reserve Tuesday.

Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who will start opposite Devils goaltender Cory Schneider, is 6-2-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average and .936 save percentage in November. He has allowed two or fewer goals in each of his wins. Bobrovsky, who will make his third straight start, is 5-3-1 with a 3.06 GAA and .896 save percentage in nine games against the Devils.

Here are the projected lineups:


Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Brandon Saad

Scott Hartnell - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Gregory Campbell - Alexander Wennberg - Nick Foligno

Matt Calvert - William Karlsson - Kerby Rychel

Jack Johnson - David Savard

Ryan Murray - Kevin Connauton

Andrew Bodnarchuk - Dalton Prout

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Injured: Fedor Tyutin (broken nose), Cody Goloubef (jaw), Rene Bourque (upper body), David Clarkson (back), Jared Boll (foot)

Scratched: Justin Falk


Mike Cammalleri - Adam Henrique - Lee Stempniak

Sergey Kalinin - Travis Zajac - Kyle Palmieri

Patrik Elias - Jacob Josefson - Stefan Matteau

Bobby Farnham - Stephen Gionta - Jordin Tootoo

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson

John Moore - Damon Severson

Jon Merrill - Eric Gelinas

Cory Schneider

Keith Kinkaid

Injured: Tuomo Ruutu (right foot fracture), David Schlemko (lower body)

Scratched: Jiri Tlusty, Brian O'Neill, Tyler Kennedy

Status report: The Blue Jackets recalled Falk, a defenseman, and reassigned right wing Josh Anderson to the American Hockey League on Tuesday. … Kennedy, a right wing, is on a pro tryout with the Devils and practiced on Wednesday, but is not ready to play in a game, according to Hynes. … Schneider will start for the sixth time in the past seven games. … Hynes said Schlemko is day-to-day.

Who's hot: Hartnell has seven goals and 12 points in the past 13 games. … Cammalleri has four goals and 10 points in the past eight games.

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