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Devils lose Clarkson for 4-6 weeks

by Mike G. Morreale /
NEWARK, N.J.  -- Here's a surprise: The New Jersey Devils have lost another player to injury.

Forward David Clarkson, who was having his most productive start in his three NHL seasons with 7 goals, 3 power-play goals, 15 points and a plus-1 rating in 22 games, will be sidelined 4-6 weeks with a non-displaced fracture of his lower right leg sustained Friday afternoon in Boston.

Clarkson, who had to crawl back to the players' bench after getting popped in the ankle, will join the laundry list of Devils players on the shelf, including forwards Jay Pandolfo (dislocated right shoulder), Rob Niedermayer (upper body) and Dainius Zubrus (fractured right kneecap) and defensemen Paul Martin (broken arm) and Johnny Oduya (lower body). There's a good chance Niedermayer and Oduya could return from their ailments at some point next week.

Devils coach Jacques Lemaire, whose team has won five straight on home ice, confirmed the injury Saturday morning before New Jersey played the Islanders.

Clarkson was injured 2:08 into the game on his initial shift after going down to block a shot by defenseman Zdeno Chara, who established a new standard in the Cisco Hardest Shot competition at last season's Honda NHL SuperSkills event with a blast of 105.4-mph.

"He's the best guy we have in front of the net," Lemaire said of Clarkson. "He has a good stick, a long reach and is always trying to interfere with the goalie's view on every shot, so I think we're losing a good player there."

"He's the best guy we have in front of the net. He has a good stick, a long reach and is always trying to interfere with the goalie's view on every shot, so I think we're losing a good player there."
-- Jacques Lemaire

The injury to Clarkson will just give another young player an opportunity to prove himself. The Devils had five rookies in the lineup against the Bruins -- forwards Niclas Bergfors, Matt Halischuk and Tim Sestito and defensemen Mark Fraser and Matt Corrente. Tyler Eckford was sent back to the minors and Sesito was a scratch against the Islanders. The Devils recalled forwards Ilkka Pikkarainen and Vladimir Zharkov from Lowell Saturday morning. Zharkov led the Devils' AHL affiliate with 20 points in 22 games.

"We all just have to pick our games," Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. "Rod Pelley really stepped up (against Boston) and played more minutes (7:03) on right wing, which was a different situation for him, but he did a heck of a job. I also felt Matt Halischuk played very well. Whenever a guy who plays significant minutes goes down, someone is going to have to step up and thankfully we've had guys willing to do that so far."

"Our veterans are taking charge and that's starting with Marty (Brodeur), our four defensemen (Colin White, Bryce Salvadore, Mike Mottau, Andy Greene) and our two top lines," Lemaire said. "The top lines are playing really well and when you have that, you have the kids with their game up.

"Jamie has been really good," Lemaire said. "He was used to playing on the top line last year (with Zach Parise and Travis Zajac), but this year he's playing a different role and doing a great job. He's getting some power-play and some offensive faceoffs with the top line, so I'm still trying to give him time with that line. But his line with Patrik (Elias) has become really good offensively."

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