The importance of Friday night’s game against the New York Rangers cannot be downplayed. The Devils have suffered two bad loses, and have lost 4 of their last 6 games. Furthermore, they have dropped to sixth in the conference, and could be one point away from eighth if the Rangers win.
To make matters worse, the Devils have not been doing well in the injury department.
Brian Gionta injured himself during the second period of the Devils dismal loss to the Penguins on Tuesday. Tom Gulitti reported that this may have been an ankle or knee injury. He claims he’ll be ready to play by Friday, but the decision is not final.
Jamie Langenbrunner was out with the Flu on Tuesday, but practiced on Thursday and expects to be on the ice tomorrow.
Jay Pandolfo is still out, although his arrival is nearing. He was in practice, as reported by the Rich Chere of the Star Ledger, but he has yet to feel 100%. He says he does not want to play until he gets to that point, although if the team continues to struggle, he may make an appearance as soon as Saturday against the LA Kings.
Cam Janssen also is expected to join the Devils lineup, as insinuated by the New Jersey Devils web site, but Brent Sutter cautions that his position in the roster may not be available depending on the status of other key players.
As the schedule winds down, the importance of these games increases, especially in a conference as competitive as the East. Only five points separates second place from eighth. And as evident from the Devils drop within the past week, a playoff position can be lost very quickly.