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Devils looking for offense from top line

by Arpon Basu

MONTREAL -- New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer is hoping his big forward line starts to play like it when they face the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

The line of Jaromir Jagr, Travis Zajac and Dainius Zubrus is DeBoer's top forward unit, but they haven't been producing at a rate that befits that title.

The three have combined to total one goal and six assists during the past 10 games, and DeBoer said his offensively-challenged club needs more from them if the Devils hope to compete.

"The chances are there. They haven't finished the way we need them to," DeBoer said. "There's no doubt we need those guys to get us a goal a night."

Jagr, whose 694 career goals are tied for seventh in NHL history, said the line is lacking one element.

"We just don't have a goal scorer on our line," Jagr said. "I'm not a goal scorer. I say it all the time. I'm not. At least the way I look at myself, I'm a playmaker. I don't shoot first. I like to create chances. I'm better at that than scoring goals."

The Devils have scored more than two goals once in their past 10 games, a 5-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 3, and it's been the second unit of Ryane Clowe, Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder that has carried the load offensively, scoring 12 of New Jersey's 18 non-shootout goals in that span.

"That line has really helped us survive the injuries to [Damien] Brunner and [Patrik] Elias," DeBoer said.

Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said he may choose to play his shut-down line of Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta and Travis Moen against Henrique's unit instead of Zajac's on Tuesday.

Therrien said he will make no changes from the lineup that defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime Saturday, meaning defenseman Francis Bouillon will be a healthy scratch for a second straight game.

DeBoer will play seven defensemen for the Devils, with Jon Merrill and Eric Gelinas in the lineup and center Andrei Loktionov likely to be scratched for the third time in four games.

Carey Price will start in goal for the Canadiens while Martin Brodeur will start for the Devils after watching Cory Schneider start the three previous games. In 30 career starts at Bell Centre, Brodeur is 19-9-1 with a 1.66 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.

"It wasn't even a question whether or not he was going to start [Tuesday]," DeBoer said of Brodeur. "Regardless of what happened in Toronto [Sunday], that was an automatic that we were going to start him here [Tuesday].

"Marty wants to play. He's not doing somersaults because I told him he's playing for the first time in four games. I think he's excited and hopefully we get a great game out of him. I'm sure we will."

Here are the probable lineups for the Canadiens and Devils:


Dainius Zubrus - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr

Ryane Clowe - Adam Henrique - Michael Ryder

Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Reid Boucher - Mike Sislo

Bryce Salvador - Anton Volchenkov

Jon Merrill - Marek Zidlicky

Andy Greene - Mark Fayne

Eric Gelinas

Martin Brodeur

Cory Schneider

Scratched: Andrei Loktionov, Cam Janssen

Injured: Patrik Elias (upper body), Damien Brunner (knee), Jacob Josefson (illness), Peter Harrold (foot)


Travis Moen - Tomas Plekanec - Brian Gionta

Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Brendan Gallagher

Rene Bourque - Lars Eller - Daniel Briere

Michael Bournival - Brandon Prust - George Parros

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban

Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin

Douglas Murray - Raphael Diaz

Carey Price

Peter Budaj

Scratched: Francis Bouillon

Injured: Davis Drewiske (shoulder), Alex Galchenyuk (hand), Ryan White (upper body)

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