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Josefson set to return to Devils' lineup

by Dan Rosen

NEWARK, N.J. -- The mood around the New Jersey Devils was somber when Jacob Josefson was diagnosed with a fractured left wrist on April 3.

Josefson was just starting to come on after missing 37 games with a broken clavicle. He was just starting to become the player that his teammates and coaches expected him to be this season.

"I feel terrible for him," Devils goalie Johan Hedberg said that night after the Devils beat the Islanders 3-1. "He works so hard and deserves all the good things. It's not fair."

Josefson will get another chance to make it all OK again on Monday, only this time he'll be getting his chance on the big stage in the Eastern Conference Finals.


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Josefson said after practice Sunday, only his second with the team since fracturing his wrist, that he will play in Game 4 against the Rangers at Prudential Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS). Petr Sykora is expected to be a healthy scratch to make room for him in the lineup.

"Oh, it's as high as it could be," Josefson told about his level of excitement. "My body feels great. My hand feels great. I'm really pumped up to play."

Josefson, 21, has been crushed with some terribly hard luck early in his NHL career. He sat out 30 games last season with a detached ligament in his right hand, 37 games this season with a broken clavicle, and now 17 more counting the playoffs with his fractured left wrist.

He played in 36 straight games after returning from his clavicle injury on Jan. 17 and had eight points (two goals, six assists). He had points in back-to-back games and in three of his previous five games prior to his wrist injury.

"He finished the season very strong," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "I thought the last three or four games of the season he was great. Fresh legs at this time of year, you're 15 games into a playoff run, can never hurt."

Josefson said he hopes to bring "a lot energy and hopefully some puck possession" to the Devils lineup. He will likely start as the third line center between Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson.

"I haven't been playing for a couple of weeks now, so I have a lot of energy and excitement to offer," Josefson said.

Devils top-line center Travis Zajac said the team is excited to get Josefson back because they know the type of two-way playmaker he can be.

"He's a skilled guy," Zajac told "He makes good plays. He's good at both ends of the ice. He's a smart player, sees the ice well. He's going to definitely help us. He was finding his stride and it's unfortunate that he had some injuries to deal with, but it's going to make him stronger. He's excited and ready to come back.

"He's a big part of this team now and in the future."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl

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