Rangers-Devils Preview

The New Jersey Devils are enduring the worst start in franchise
history.

The New York Rangers are dealing with a different type of
loss.

The Devils get an eighth attempt at their first win of 2013-14
on Saturday night as they try to take advantage of a visiting
Rangers team playing without captain Ryan Callahan.

New Jersey (0-4-3) has started a season with seven straight
losses for the first time. The franchise hasn’t dealt with a longer
winless stretch to begin a season since a nine-game stretch that
included one tie as the expansion Kansas City Scouts in
1974-75.

The Devils’ current struggles include three straight defeats in
regulation while being outscored 11-4, including Thursday’s 5-2
loss at Ottawa. New Jersey outshot the Senators 42-23, but coach
Peter DeBoer’s team sounds like one on the verge of hitting the
panic button.

“It doesn’t get any more urgent than where we’re sitting right
now,” DeBoer told the team’s official website. “I don’t think you
can ramp up the urgency any more for our group. Complacency isn’t
an issue right now.”

That also seems to be the case for the Rangers (2-4-0), who are
expected to have major changes after Callahan became the latest
member of the team to get hurt. Callahan is out at least three
weeks with a broken thumb after scoring three goals in two games,
netting one in Wednesday’s 2-0 win at Washington.

New York also is expected to be without Rick Nash (head) again,
while Carl Hagelin (shoulder) continues to be on long-term injured
reserve.

“It’s definitely an opportunity for some other guys to have a
bigger role and more ice-time and we’re hoping that someone is
going to grab that opportunity,” coach Alain Vigneault told the
team’s official website. “Cally, you can’t replace what he brings
to the table, but we are hoping that some other guys will be able
to take that opportunity, and I’m confident that will happen.”

Continued production from Brad Richards would help. The center
leads New York with four goals and has four of his seven points
over the past two games, including a pair of assists against the
Capitals.

He hasn’t scored in 16 games against the Devils – including the
playoffs – since joining the Rangers as a free agent prior to
2011-12. However, he assisted on four goals during two wins against
New Jersey in April.

Richards may be joined by Taylor Pyatt on the top line. Pyatt
has no points and is a minus-6 through six games.

Henrik Lundqvist likely will be back in net after stopping all
22 shots Wednesday. That was a welcome change after he lost his
previous two starts while surrendering 10 goals on 63 shots.

The 2012 Vezina Trophy winner has won his last three meetings
with the Devils, compiling a 1.00 GAA. He has a .946 save
percentage in his last 15 regular-season starts in the series.

New Jersey is scheduled for a change in net with Cory Schneider
replacing Martin Brodeur, who is 0-2-2 with a 3.40 GAA after
struggling again Thursday.

Schneider is 0-2-1 with a 2.65 GAA in three starts, but they’ve
all come on the road. He lost his only meeting with the Rangers on
Jan. 13, 2011, making 34 saves in a 1-0 defeat with Vancouver.

This time, he’ll get his first taste of the cross-river
rivalry.

“It’s going to be fun,” Schneider said. “It’s going to be a
tough game. Maybe this is something we need. Maybe we need a big
hit or a fight or a scrap of some kind just to sort of light the
fire here.”

New Jersey has scored only 13 goals in seven games, and
Schneider’s club may find itself in especially dire straits if it
trails after two periods Saturday. The Rangers have gone 88-0-6
since last losing in regulation when leading after two periods on
Feb. 4, 2010 – the longest streak in the NHL.