-- If the New Jersey Devils
are to avoid their longest season-opening losing streak since 2001-02, they'll have to do it shorthanded from the opening drop of the puck on Monday afternoon when they play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins
at Prudential Center.
Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello informed the media about an hour-and-a-half before faceoff that defenseman Anton Volchenkov
(broken nose) and forward Brian Rolston
(lower body) would be sidelined. Also, wing Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond
, who received a one-game suspension after instigating a fight with less than five minutes to play in Saturday's game against the Washington Capitals
, was placed on waivers.
The losses leave the Devils with 15 healthy skaters on the active roster against the 2009 Stanley Cup champion.
"My hands aren't tied," Devils coach John MacLean
said. "We'll have guys ready to go and we'll play. There's no excuses here … we'll have everyone contributing."
Said Lamoriello when asked his thoughts on having just 15 skaters available: "It's not something we like to see, but it is what it is today and that's the way it'll be."
Lamoriello said Leblond being placed on waivers had nothing to do with his actions late in the third period against Washington.
"It had nothing to do with the other evening," he said. "It had to do with making a decision as far as whether we add another different type of forward, depending on injuries. But I didn't like what transpired at the end of the game at that time in that situation there."
Leblond violated Rule 46.22 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement when he instigated a fight in the final five minutes of a game with Washington's Marcus Johansson
on Saturday. Lamoriello also said a decision has yet to be made on whether or not Leblond would even be sent to the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Albany if he clears waivers.
"My hands aren't tied. We'll have guys ready to go and we'll play. There's no excuses here … we'll have everyone contributing." -- John MacLean
Could a little adversity be just the rallying cry for the Devils to break out of their two-game skid to open the season? New Jersey's 7-2 loss to the Capitals on Saturday, which saw goalie Martin Brodeur
pulled in the second period, was the team's most lopsided defeat in three seasons.
"It could be," MacLean said. "It might tighten up our game a little more. We have to play smart and manage the puck better and do the things we talked about. That's what we'll have to do. We need to play 60 minutes of consistent hockey. We have to get the puck deep and make it a 200-foot game as opposed to a three-quarters-of-the-ice game."
The Devils will have nine forwards available for Monday's matinee against the Penguins, who also come in losers of two straight to open the season.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale