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Rangers and Devils renew cross-river rivalry

by Staff

RANGERS (6-5-1) at DEVILS (4-9-1)


Last 10 -- Rangers 5-4-1, Devils 3-7-0

Season series -- The Rangers and Devils have played once already with the Blueshirts coming away with a 3-1 win on Oct. 24 at Madison Square Garden.

Big story -- The Devils came home from their Western trip on a high after a 5-3 win in Chicago. Nothing about that trip was easy, including the harsh news that Zach Parise would be out three months after having knee surgery. But there are at least a few positive vibes around the Prudential Center these days -- especially because the Devils also may be getting Anton Volchenkov back for the first time since the second game of the season. The Rangers got blitzed 4-1 in Philadelphia on Thursday night.

Team Scope:

Rangers -- The Rangers had a stinker in Philadelphia, but now they have to forget about it because the turnaround couldn't be any quicker. The last thing the Rangers want to be is fodder for the Devils right now. They do not want to see their cross-river rivals start to turn it on at their expense.

The good news from Rangers' camp Thursday was the fact that Marian Gaborik skated with the team in the morning. Gaborik, who has been out since Oct. 15 with a shoulder injury, is still on the mend but is getting closer to a return. He wants to return during the Rangers' four-game homestand, which begins Sunday against St. Louis. The return date hasn't been determined.

"It's kind of tough to schedule a time frame or an exact game. I have a game in mind," Gaborik told reporters. "The most important thing is to get into contact drills, hopefully in the very near future. I want to continue to strengthen my shoulder and have confidence when I go into the corners and feel comfortable. I just want to keep doing more every day."

Devils -- They got yet another scare Wednesday in Chicago when Martin Brodeur had to take himself out of the game with a bruised elbow. Fortunately, X-rays were negative and GM Lou Lamoriello told The Bergen Record on Thursday that he expects Brodeur to play Friday. Lamoriello also expects Volchenkov to make his return to the lineup. Volchenkov was hit in the face by a Nicklas Backstrom shot on Oct. 9 and suffered a broken nose and subsequent stiff neck.

"Whenever you get a veteran back whose size and strength is one of the reasons we acquired him, it certainly helps take the pressure off the other veteran players who are playing with young players and perhaps trying to do too much," Lamoriello told The Record.

Who's hot -- Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias each had 2 assists in Chicago, while Travis Zajac scored a goal and had an assist. Those are the three guys that Devils have to have producing in order to climb back up the standings. Brandon Dubinsky on Thursday scored his third goal in the last two games. He has a team-high 8 goals in 12 games.

Injury report -- Gaborik (shoulder), Chris Drury (finger) and Vinny Prospal (knee) are out for the Rangers. Parise (knee), Bryce Salvador (concussion), Matthew Corrente (hand), Jacob Josefson (hand) and Mark Fraser (hand) and Brian Rolston (sports hernia) are out for the Devils. Volchenkov and Brodeur are probable.

Stat pack -- The Rangers are 2-0 in the second-half of back-to-backs this season. They beat New Jersey one night after beating Boston and shut out Toronto 2-0 last Saturday, one night after losing to Carolina. … Ryan Callahan's seven-game point scoring streak came to an end in Philadelphia. He was held without a goal or an assist for the first time since Oct. 18. … According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Wednesday's game marked the first time the Devils scored two empty-net goals in the same game.

Puck drop -- Parise won't be at the game Friday, but he'll be watching. Parise told Wednesday that he trusts his teammates will break out of their season-long funk and be in the playoff race by the time he returns, which could be after the All-Star break.

"You've got to look at the players and we haven't been getting the job done. But, like I said, I'm confident those guys will get everything straightened out and will get on a winning track here."

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