-- He appeared in 49 games during the regular season. Now, defenseman Andy Greene
will get his first taste of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs Thursday night when the New Jersey Devils
host the Carolina Hurricanes
in Game 5 of their first-round matchup at the Prudential Center (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RIS).
Greene will fill the void left by Bryce Salvador
, who suffered a lower-body injury in Tuesday's 4-3 loss at Carolina.
"It feels great," said Greene, who last played on April 11 against these Hurricanes. "Obviously you want to play every game, but sometimes it's not going to happen. You've got to be mentally ready to go, so if something does happen you can jump in."
With Salvador out for an undetermined period, it's now Greene's job to lose. Devils coach Brent Sutter
is confident the 26-year-old -- who had 2 goals and 7 assists during the regular season -- can contribute to the cause. The winner of Thursday's game will grab a 3-2 lead in this best-of-7 series.
"I just want him to come in and just be himself," Sutter said after Thursday's morning skate. "Whenever he's come in and played, he's played very well. We just need him to do what he does and just be consistent for us."
Certainly, it's tough on any player to jump into the middle of a series that he hasn't played in before, but Greene is confident it won't be too difficult. He appeared in 11 playoff games for the Devils in 2007, notching 2 goals and 1 assist.
"I hope not," Greene said. "I just want to come out tonight and play a simple game and get the tempo and flow of it. I'll just take it shift by shift."
Devils defenseman Paul Martin
, who had an assist and logged 28 minutes of ice time in Game 4, also believes Greene is up to the challenge and will fill Salvador's skates adequately.
"It's a great opportunity," Martin said. "It's great when you have seven or eight 'D' that can be in the lineup. He did a great job when he was playing down the stretch for us. Unfortunately, someone has to sit out. He's going to come in and he's going to do well."
It's not often a team tinkers with its lineup after a win, but Carolina coach Paul Maurice
said the 'Canes may have a bit of a different look in Game 5. He did not divulge what those possible changes may be, although it's hard to imagine defenseman Dennis Seidenberg
being taken out of the lineup after the game he had on Tuesday at the RBC Center.
"We may make some adjustments at game time," Maurice said.