Devils begin life without DeBoer in NYC

(SportsNetwork.com) – The New York Rangers hope to pick up where they left off
before the Christmas break when they host the struggling New Jersey Devils in
Saturday’s Metropolitan Division clash at Madison Square Garden.

The Devils, meanwhile, begin life without head coach Peter DeBoer, who was
fired from his post on Friday.

New Jersey general manager Lou Lamoriello told the media Saturday that the
Devils will go forward with a unique coaching situation. Lamoriello said the
Devils will use both Adam Oates and Scott Stevens behind the bench, with the
former man handling the forwards and the latter taking charge of the defense,

The Devils did not announce official titles for either Oates or Stevens and
Lamoriello also said he also will be behind the bench for the time being.

While Lamoriello’s plan to replace DeBoer for the rest of the season is
unorthodox, the decision to let the coach go was hardly surprising. The Devils
are just 1-4-3 over their last eight games and find themselves nine points out
of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Over four seasons with New Jersey, DeBoer has compiled a 114-93-41 record and
guided the team to the playoffs during the 2011 season, his first with the
Devils. DeBoer’s best season in New Jersey was his first as he guided the team
to a 48-28-6 record in 2011-12. The Devils represented the Eastern Conference
in the Stanley Cup Finals, but lost to the Los Angeles Kings in six games.

DeBoer was able to get the Devils a a point in his final game behind the
Devils bench, as Jersey dropped a shootout decision Tuesday against visiting
Carolina.

New Jersey grabbed the early lead on Tuesday when Stephen Gionta gave the
hosts a 1-0 edge with 6:28 left in the first. The score stayed that way until
Ron Hainsey evened things for Carolina with 8:01 remaining in the third. Chris
Terry then scored the lone goal of the shootout to give the Hurricanes a 2-1
victory and drop the Devils to 1-2-1 on their four-game homestand.

Cory Schneider stopped 32 shots through regulation and overtime, but he took
the loss after allowing Terry to score in the third round of the shootout.

“We wanted to finish strong before the break,” said Devils winger Mike
Cammalleri. “It’s a little disappointing right now for sure.”

Cammalleri returned Tuesday from a four-game absence that caused him to miss
four games, but the Devils played without forwards Patrik Elias, Martin Havlat
and Jacob Josefson. Elias and Havlat have been sidelined with the mumps, and
are not available for tonight. Josefson is questionable with a strained groin.

New Jersey will likely go with Schneider as the starter for the 33rd time this
season. The workhorse is 1-1-1 with a 1.79 GAA against the Rangers in his
career.

The Devils will try to halt a three-game road losing streak tonight, and are
just 8-11-2 as the guest this season.

New York earned its seventh consecutive victory and improved to 2-0 on a
three-game homestand when it downed the Washington Capitals, 4-2, on Tuesday.
The winning streak is the club’s longest since another seven-game run from
Oct. 31-Nov. 15, 2011 and it’s also the longest current tear in the NHL.

Another victory tonight would mark the franchise’s longest streak in four
decades, as the club hasn’t won eight in a row since Dec. 27, 1974-Jan. 11,
1975.

The recent surge has helped push the Rangers into third place in the Metro.
Tuesday’s regulation win over the Capitals forged a tie for the division’s
third and final automatic playoff berth, but New York holds the tiebreaker
over Washington.

Rick Nash recorded a hat trick on Tuesday, giving him 23 goals on the season,
but his club had to hold off a late comeback attempt from the Capitals. Only
Tyler Seguin has more goals (25) than Nash this season.

Nash’s second goal of the game made put New York ahead 3-0 at 5:12 of the
third period, but Evgeny Kuznetsov tallied 41 seconds later for Washington.
Alex Ovechkin’s power-play goal cut the deficit to 3-2 with 9:02 left in the
third. The score would stay that way until Nash completed the hat trick with a
power-play tally of his own with 3:48 remaining.

Martin St. Louis added a power-play marker early in the second period for the
Rangers, who went 2-for-7 on the man advantage.

Derek Brassard had three assists and Mats Zuccarello chipped in two helpers
for New York. Henrik Lundqvist earned the victory with 30 saves, with 19 of
those stops coming in the final period.

“The team is playing good, we are winning games, and it’s a great feeling in
here,” St. Louis said. “We did a good job of going out there and earning it
every day. We’ve taken nothing for granted. We take care of the opponents and
we play seriously and we’ve been rewarded with some good plays.”

Lundqvist is expected to get the start tonight. The Swedish star boasts a
31-14-6 record, 1.89 goals against average, .931 save percentage and eight
shutouts in his career against the Devils.

As a team, New York has won three straight and six of the last nine meetings
in this series. The Devils have taken two straight in NYC, but the Rangers are
11-5-3 at home this season after winning their last three at the Garden.