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NEWARK — The New Jersey Devils are without center Kevin Rooney and the Pittsburgh Penguins are without center Sidney Crosby.
Same thing, right?
Crosby will be out at least six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia he’s been dealing with since training camp. The injury was aggravated during the Penguins’ shootout win over the Chicago Blackhawks over the weekend.
Jan 28, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) moves the puck against New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac (19) during the second period at PPG PAINTS Arena.
Jan 28, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) moves the puck against New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac (19) during the second period at PPG PAINTS Arena. (Photo: Charles LeClaire, Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport)
However, it doesn’t change the way the Devils plan for one of the deepest teams in the Metropolitan Division. They’ll face the Penguins for the first time this season Friday night at Prudential Center.
“One of the things about Pittsburgh, with Crosby out he’s one of the best players in the league, so what he adds to their team is something that you can’t replace,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “But when you look at their team, they’re very resilient, they’ve been able to be good without Malkin in the lineup or Crosby in the lineup or Letang when he’s been out of the lineup.”
Hynes, the former head coach of the Penguins’ American Hockey League affiliate, tried to impress on his team that they need to play as if Crosby is still in the lineup. They’ve done well even with Crosby in the lineup, having won six of their last eight.
“They have a lot of depth, they have a lot of very good players,” he said. “They bring the same game all the time, they’re very competitive and they have a lot of depth. So when they have some of their big players out, they really bond well as a team. It’s going to be a tough game tomorrow.”
Hynes’ own squad is dealing with injuries to its best defenseman, Sami Vatanen who was placed on injured reserve Friday morning, and fourth-line center Rooney. Vatanen is ruled through the weekend, sidelined with a lower-body injury for Friday’s game against Pittsburgh and Saturday’s game in Montreal and Colton White was called up from Binghamton of the American Hockey League to take his place on the roster.
New Jersey Devils defenseman Colton White (68) pursues New York Islanders right wing Jordan Eberle (7) during the second period of a preseason NHL hockey game in New York, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017.
New Jersey Devils defenseman Colton White (68) pursues New York Islanders right wing Jordan Eberle (7) during the second period of a preseason NHL hockey game in New York, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. (Photo: Kathy Willens, AP)
White will not play Friday but there is a possibility he will see action in his fourth NHL game Saturday against the Habs. The 22-year-old London, Ontario native has three assists in 15 games with the Binghamton Devils this season.
Vatanen took part in the medical skates ahead of the team this week, including on Wednesday and Thursday.
There are several problems plaguing the Devils, but the biggest may be their glaring inability to protect leads, especially on home ice. They blew another one Wednesday in a 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators.
“You look at some of the games and the competition level and our compete and battle level was there, but we fall back into making mistakes that compound other mistakes,” forward Kyle Palmieri said. “And when a mistake happens, you’ve got to find a way to get back into your structure. Or hopefully, you get a save or they hit a post or a puck bounces over a stick. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to put your back in a position after a mistake to make sure that you’re in the right spot for whatever comes next.”
The Devils will hold their annual Military Appreciation Night on Friday. The Kyle Palmieri Foundation, which supports active and retired service members through various initiatives, will host a group of William Paterson University office of veteran and military affairs program. The New Jersey Warriors, a team of disabled veterans, will also be on hand for the event.
The Devils and Penguins did not take morning skates. Here are the projected lineups.
The puck shot by Philadelphia Flyers’ Oskar Lindblom gets past New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood for a goal during the first period of the NHL hockey game in Newark, N.J., Friday, Nov. 1, 2019.
The puck shot by Philadelphia Flyers’ Oskar Lindblom gets past New Jersey Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood for a goal during the first period of the NHL hockey game in Newark, N.J., Friday, Nov. 1, 2019. (Photo: Seth Wenig, AP)
Devils (5-8-4, 14 points)
Taylor Hall – Jack Hughes – Kyle Palmieri
Jesper Boqvist – Nico Hischier – Jesper Bratt
Blake Coleman – Travis Zajac – Nikita Gusev
Miles Wood – Pavel Zacha – Wayne Simmonds
Will Butcher – P.K. Subban
Andy Greene – Damon Severson
Mirco Mueller – Matt Tennyson
Scratched: John Hayden
Injured: Kevin Rooney (upper-body, day-to-day), Sami Vatanen (upper-body, day-to-day), Connor Carrick (right pinky surgery)
Penguins (10-6-2, 22 points)
Jake Guentzel – Evgeni Malkin – Bryan Rust
Dominik Kahun – Jared McCann – Dominik Simon
Alex Galchenyuk – Nick Bjugstad – Sam Lafferty
Zach Aston-Reese – Teddy Blueder – Brandon Tanev
Brian Dumoulin – John Marino
Marcus Pettersson – Justin Schultz
Jack Johnson – Juuso Riikola
Scratched: Chad Ruhwedel
Injured: Sidney Crosby (sports hernia surgery), Kris Letang (lower-body), Patrick Hornqvist (lower-body)
Abbey Mastracco is the Devils beat writer for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Devils analysis, news, trades and more, please subscribe today and download our app.
Email: [email protected] Twitter: @abbeymastracco
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