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Jets' Trouba eager to return, face Devils' Merrill

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba is set to make his return to the lineup on Monday when his team begins a six-game road trip against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.

"I'm not hiding the fact that Jacob Trouba is going to play," Jets coach Claude Noel said after his team's morning skate.

Trouba has missed the past 17 games with a neck injury. To make room for the 2012 first-round pick (No. 9), the Jets will likely list Adam Pardy as a healthy scratch.

Trouba likely will be paired with Grant Clitsome.

"I'm excited to get back into things and it'll take some time to get some timing back so I just have to keep it simple," Trouba said. "I just know I can't really get running around at the start, just stay in control and not get too excited I guess."

Trouba has been out since Oct. 18 with a neck injury sustained when he skated hard into the end boards while trying to hit St. Louis Blues defenseman Jordan Leopold. He has a goal and two points in eight games and averaged almost 21 minutes when healthy.

Trouba returns to the lineup on the same night that fellow University of Michigan teammate Jon Merrill will return on defense for the Devils. Merrill lasted only three shifts in his first NHL game on Nov. 3 in Minnesota before sustaining a concussion and facial lacerations when he crashed into the boards after being tripped.

"It'll be cool to play him," Trouba said of Merrill. "I've played other Michigan guys but it's good to get back into it."

The Devils recalled Merrill on emergency conditions from the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Albany when it was learned Adam Larsson would be out with a lower-body injury.

"I'd like to see him get a whole game in since his first kind of ending rather abruptly," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said of Merrill. "He feels good and I liked what I saw the first time around even though it was for a few shifts. We've liked what we've seen out of him in the AHL. Like every team, your depth is getting tested with a condensed schedule and travel and we've been relying on guys like [Merrill] to come in and do the job for us."

The Devils are coming off a productive three-game road trip through California, winning two games against the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings before dropping a 2-1 decision to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. In the loss to the Sharks, goalie Martin Brodeur gave Devils fans a scare with 1:31 left in regulation when he lay motionless on the ice after being struck in the back of the neck with the puck while diving to make a save. He eventually got to his knees and remained in the game. He said he felt fine following Monday's skate.

The future Hall of Fame goalie is expected to get the start against the Jets.

Here are the expected lineups for both teams:


Dainius Zubrus - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr

Damien Brunner - Patrik Elias - Steve Bernier

Adam Henrique - Andrei Loktionov - Michael Ryder

Ryan Carter - Jacob Josefson - Cam Janssen

Andy Greene - Marek Zidlicky

Eric Gelinas - Mark Fayne

Peter Harrold - Jon Merrill

Martin Brodeur

Cory Schneider

Scratched: Mattias Tedenby

Injured: Anton Volchenkov (leg), Ryane Clowe (head), Bryce Salvador (foot), Stephen Gionta (ankle), Adam Larsson (lower body)


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Evander Kane - Olli Jokinen - Devin Setoguchi

Matt Halischuk - Mark Scheifele - Michael Frolik

Eric Tangradi - James Wright - Chris Thorburn

Grant Clitsome - Jacob Trouba

Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien

Keaton Ellerby - Mark Stuart

Ondrej Pavelec

Al Montoya

Scratched: Anthony Peluso, Adam Pardy

Injured: Zach Bogosian (groin), Paul Postma (blood clot), Jim Slater (sports hernia)

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