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Devils, Hurricanes focused on finishing season strong

by Kurt Dusterberg

DEVILS (31-31-12) at HURRICANES (27-36-10)


RALEIGH, N.C. -- There will be no Stanley Cup Playoffs implications when the New Jersey Devils meet the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, FS-CR).

The Hurricanes have been eliminated, and the Devils have only a remote mathematical chance, but that doesn't matter to New Jersey forward Mike Cammalleri. He is not worried about getting up for games in late March.

"As an individual, I truly feel like we have the best jobs in the world and I feel privileged to play in the NHL," said Cammalleri, who leads New Jersey with 25 goals. "All of us have worked really hard to get here. I really appreciate the experience. I look at the remaining games and wish we had another 100 to go. It's not that hard to get up for it. It's a lot of fun to play hockey."

Cammalleri has missed the playoffs in nine of his 12 seasons, but he also knows the joy of a deep playoff run. His 13-goal performance carried the Montreal Canadiens to the Eastern Conference Final in 2010, where they lost to the Philadelphia Flyers.

"Winning makes it more fun, there's no doubt, like anything else," he said. "I hope I have many years left, but regardless of that, being involved in a career that allows you to fully engage with something you truly love, it's a lot of fun. So that's what we're working on: getting better and winning."

Carolina is in the same boat in the final weeks of the season, trying to establish some positive habits heading toward next season. The Hurricanes have leaned on a handful of young players, including rookie center Victor Rask, who scored his 30th point in a 5-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. For the kids, the challenge will be to finish strong.

"I met with some guys here today," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "There are some who can round their numbers up into really positive numbers, whether it's to 20 or 40 points or get to even (plus/minus) on the year. They've just got to play properly. We've done that for the most part coming down the stretch."

Keith Kinkaid will start in goal for the Devils. Cam Ward, who did not take the morning skate, will make his second straight start for Carolina.

Here are the projected lineups.


Adam Henrique - Patrik Elias - Stephen Gionta

Reid Boucher - Scott Gomez - Steve Bernier

Mike Cammalleri - Travis Zajac - Jordin Tootoo

Tuomo Ruutu - Jacob Josefson - Dainius Zubrus

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson

Jon Merrill - Damon Severson

Mark Fraser - Eric Gelinas

Keith Kinkaid

Cory Schneider

Scratched: Martin Havlat, Michael Ryder, Stefan Matteau, Peter Harrold

Injured: Bryce Salvador (back), Ryane Clowe (concussion)


Eric Staal - Jordan Staal - Nathan Gerbe

Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Elias Lindholm

Chris Terry - Riley Nash - Andrej Nestrasil

Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Patrick Dwyer

Justin Faulk - Ron Hainsey

John-Michael Liles - Danny Biega

Michal Jordan - Ryan Murphy

Cam Ward

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Brett Bellemore

Injuries: Jack Hillen (concussion), Rasmus Rissanen (knee), Alexander Semin (hamstring)

Status update: Semin skated Saturday after taking the day off Friday. He has a strained hamstring, but it is not likely to be serious according to Peters, who does not expect Semin to play.

Who's hot: Kinkaid has won his past three starts, allowing three goals. … Gomez has a goal and an assist in his past two games. … Murphy has two goals in his past three games. … Eric Staal had three points against Pittsburgh on Thursday.

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