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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, October 3rd (All times Eastern)

New Jersey Devils (0-0-0) at Pittsburgh Penguins (0-0-0), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - Although the teams are part of a new division this season, the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils will renew their rivalry in Thursday's battle in the Steel City.

The Penguins and Devils have grown accustomed to each other over their years battling it out in the old Atlantic Division, but Pittsburgh and New Jersey are now members of the Metropolitan Division thanks to the NHL's realignment plan for the 2013-14 season. Joining the Devils and Pens in the Metro are all of their remaining former Atlantic Division members (Flyers, Rangers, Islanders) as well as Carolina, Columbus and Washington.

While Pittsburgh made it to the Eastern Conference finals last spring after winning the Atlantic, the Devils missed the postseason one year after going all the way to the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals. It marked the second time in three seasons that New Jersey was left out of the playoffs.

Although the Devils earned praise for acquiring a future replacement for Martin Brodeur in goaltender Cory Schneider back in June, the club's 2013-14 playoff chances were dealt a major blow when star forward Ilya Kovalchuk announced his retirement from the NHL in July.

At just 30 years of age, Kovalchuk opted to leave $77 million over 12 years on the table by retiring. Then, less than a week after ending his NHL career, he signed a four-year deal with SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League.

In addition to losing Kovy, the Devils also watched David Clarkson, the team's goal-scoring leader in 2013, leave the nest to sign a lucrative deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. That means New Jersey, a team that finished 28th in team offense last season, is going to need big offensive years from its returning players and offseason acquisitions Jaromir Jagr, Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder to stay afloat this season.

The 41-year-old Jagr enters the season with a lower-body injury, but he expects to play in the opener, as does Devils forward Patrik Elias, who has battled a groin injury of late.

One player who won't be on the ice at the start of Thursday's game is Brodeur, who will see his streak of 18 straight starts in season openers for the Devils come to an end.

On Wednesday, New Jersey announced Schneider, who was 17-9-4 with a 2.11 GAA for the Vancouver Canucks last season, will get the call in the season opener. Devils head coach Peter DeBoer said his decision to go with Schneider is related to the recent passing of Brodeur's father, Denis, who died on Sept. 26 at the age of 82. The future Hall of Famer left the team to attend his father's funeral in Montreal, and DeBoer said he was going with Schneider to give the 41-year-old Brodeur extra time to prepare.

Schneider was acquired to eventually take over the No. 1 goaltending job from Brodeur, but both netminders are expected to get considerable playing time in 2013-14.

"I know I must have a streak, but I don't know how long it is," Brodeur said of not getting the start. "It doesn't matter. It's not a big thing. It's durability. I'm part of the lineup regardless."

The last time the Devils used a goaltender other than Brodeur to start a season was in 1993-94, when Chris Terreri began the year between the pipes.

While New Jersey enters this season without its most dangerous offensive weapon of the last few years, the Penguins still boast skaters like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang and Chris Kunitz on their roster.

Pittsburgh easily led the NHL with an average of 3.38 goals per game last season and Dan Bylsma's club should be every bit as potent in 2013-14. However, Letang, one of the best offensive defenseman in the world, is on injured reserve to begin this season and Neal is questionable for Thursday's opener with an upper-body injury.

Even without Letang and possibly Neal the Penguins have more than enough scoring to get by. Stopping the opposition from scoring is another matter, as the Pens have issues on the blue line and in the crease.

The goaltending situation is less than stellar, especially since Tomas Vokoun is set to miss the first 3-to-6 months of the season after undergoing a procedure to dissolve a blood clot in his pelvis. Vokoun was the backup to Marc-Andre Fleury last season, but took over the No. 1 job after Fleury stumbled in the playoffs.

Fleury, who helped Pittsburgh win a Stanley Cup tile in 2009, has struggled regaining his previous form over the last few seasons. Fleury was solid during the 2013 regular season, going 23-8-0 with a 2.39 GAA before registering a 3.52 GAA and .883 save percentage in five playoff appearances last spring.

Jeff Zatkoff will serve as the backup to Fleury until Vokoun is able to return.

"I want to go with the goaltending we have here and see how we do," Penguins general manager Ray Shero said in light of the Vokoun injury. "Like anything, you'll evaluate as you go ... right now I want to go with this and see how we do. I want to give Jeff the opportunity, which I think he's deserved."

The Devils claimed three of four meetings against the Penguins last season and have taken three in a row and six of the last nine encounters in this series. However, New Jersey hasn't fared well in Pittsburgh in recent seasons, losing six of its past eight tilts in the Steel City.

10/03 10:57:06 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
GT 80
NCSU 81
Final
LOU 78
UNC 68
Final
NYR 4
CAR 1
Final
UVA 63
DUKE 69
Final
ETST 61
NCCU 59
 
4th
DEN 84
CHA 104
 
Final
ORL 93
DAL 108
Final
IND 94
SAC 99
Final
WAS 116
TOR 120
Final
DET 114
HOU 101
Final
ATL 91
PHI 85
Final
MIN 90
CLE 106
Final
MEM 85
OKC 74
Final
MIL 95
POR 88
4th
DEN 84
CHA 104
 
4th
SAN 69
LAC 86
 
2nd
GSW 24
PHO 32
 
Final
TENN 71
AUB 63
Final
CLEM 64
BC 49
Final
STJOE 75
DAVID 70
Final
GT 80
NCSU 81
Final
PITT 76
ND 72
Final
STJ 75
PROV 66
Final
UNH 63
USB 48
 
Final
WVU 77
TTU 58
Final
TEMPL 55
TULA 37
Final
EMICH 69
WMICH 63
 
Final
IOWA 63
WISC 74
Final
SHU 90
XAV 82
Final
UF 57
ARK 56
Final
STET 75
LIP 73
 
Final
ILL 60
PSU 58
Final
TULSA 78
SFLA 71
Final
INDST 64
BRAD 58
 
Final
MAINE 59
GTDNS 77
 
Final
LEH 89
BU 86
 
Final
MARQ 68
BUT 72
Final
DEL 71
COC 68
 
Final
CREI 40
GEOR 67
Final
CLST 76
UWGB 62
 
Final
NEOM 65
MAST 75
 
Final
LOYC 45
ILLST 48
 
Final
KU 68
KYST 57
Final
JVU 50
KNST 51
 
Final
MSST 73
LSU 67
Final
SHU 71
MNTER 77
 
Final
VCU 55
RICH 64
Final
ISU 83
TCU 66
Final
BING 76
MLOWELL 69
 
Final
HART 46
VERM 65
 
Final
DEP 55
VILL 68
Final
WAKE 73
VT 70
Final
UGST 74
ARKST 43
 
Final
FAM 44
COOK 61
 
Final
NDAK 80
IDST 69
 
Final
ARMY 71
GHND 77
 
Final
BEL 71
TENT 53
 
Final
TXSA 57
UAB 65
Final
ILLCH 65
VALPO 70
 
Final
DRAK 70
EVAN 65
 
Final
IND 72
RUTG 64
Final
UMO 79
BST 73
 
Final
RMU 68
BRY 71
 
Final
WAGN 86
CCST 55
 
Final
GWEBB 66
CCAR 64
 
Final
MDES 92
COPST 82
 
Final
RFLSH 68
FD 63
 
Final
RIU 59
GWU 55
Final
SCAR 67
UGA 50
Final
Terriers 81
LIU 64
 
Final
PAC 71
LMU 76
 
Final
STLU 56
UMASS 60
Final
HOW 64
MRGST 48
 
Final
DREX 85
UNCW 76
 
Final
LOU 78
UNC 68
Final
MIZZ 47
MISS 67
Final
ALCOR 56
SOUTH 65
 
Final
NIOWA 70
WICHS 54
Final
JMU 65
WMARY 84
 
Final
RAD 73
WINT 66
 
Final
EILL 57
SIUE 54
 
Final
UNCA 70
CAMP 63
 
Final
MORE 57
EKENT 66
 
Final
NICST 58
INCWORD 69
 
Final
CMICH 74
OHIO 69
 
Final
TEXAM 69
VANDY 58
Final
UWMIL 78
DET 74
 
Final
UNCG 73
WCU 78
 
Final
EWASH 98
IDAHO 95
 
Final
SDKST 69
DEN 39
 
Final
SHSU 63
HOUB 52
 
Final
MVSU 75
JST 62
 
Final
TXST 63
LALAF 72
 
Final
LATU 81
MARS 57
Final
SD 72
ORU 73
 
Final
LAMON 67
SALA 61
 
Final
PVU 89
ALAAM 63
 
Final
GRAM 53
ARKPB 65
 
Final
PRIN 64
DART 53
 
Final
SCST 78
DELST 74
 
Final
COLST 80
FRES 57
Final
MINN 60
NEB 42
Final
WYO 63
NEV 55
Final
GAELS 62
PEPP 67
 
Final
NW 60
PURD 68
Final
BAY 83
TEX 60
Final
CHAT 78
CITA 73
 
Final
SMISS 62
WKENT 73
Final
CORN 57
YALE 65
 
Final
NORST 63
HAMP 60
 
Final
SAV 59
NCAT 62
 
Final
BGU 68
AKR 69
 
Final
KENT 70
ALA 55
Final
CLMB 86
BRO 65
 
7:00pm Tonight
LIB
CSOU
 
Final
LIB 62
CSOU 74
 
Final
BUCK 69
COL 71
 
Final
UVA 63
DUKE 69
Final
NE 80
ELON 61
 
Final
CHAR 70
FIU 78
Final
ODU 68
FATL 57
Final
SAMF 68
FUR 58
 
Final
DUQ 62
GMAS 53
Final
PENN 38
HARV 63
 
Final
LBSU 65
HAW 50
 
Final
BONA 56
LAS 66
Final
NAVY 65
LAF 74
 
Final
PBY 67
LONG 71
 
Final
WOFF 49
MERC 46
 
Final
ETST 61
NCCU 59
 
Final
MCNST 68
NO 61
 
Final
FLGC 74
NKENTUCKY 64
 
Final
IONA 68
PETE 61
 
Final
UNF 74
USCU 79
 
Final
LAM 84
ABCHRIST 74
 
Final
GSOUT 76
ARKLR 61
 
Final
STEPH 61
TAMCC 51
 
Final
UCR 66
CSNO 62
 
Final
SELA 73
NWST 88
 
Final
OKST 56
OKLA 64
 
Final
UNT 75
RICE 65
Final
SDU 77
USF 69
 
Final
NMU 67
SJST 41
Final
PEAY 64
SEMIZ 70
 
Final
NILL 69
TOL 80
 
Final
HOF 72
TOWS 86
 
Final
SMU 75
UCF 56
 
Final
MURST 65
TENNM 62
 
Final
SDST 62
UTST 42
Final
MIZST 52
SILL 46
 
Final
TXARL 54
TROY 55
 
Final
TXSOU 80
ALAST 65
 
Final
TENST 45
JVST 43
 
Final
WASU 89
STAN 88
 
Final
GRCN 55
CHIST 56
 
2nd
UTEP 80
MTST 68
 
Final
SUTAH 60
NARZ 81
 
Final
BYU 78
SCU 57
 
Final
NMST 53
TXPA 48
 
Final
NCOL 71
WEBER 57
 
2nd
UNLV 40
AFA 32
 
2nd
UCD 30
CPSL 42
 
Half
GONZ 43
MEM 25
 
2nd
UCI 44
UCSB 36
 
2nd
SACST 33
MONT 39
 
2nd
PORST 51
MNTST 39
 
1st
UCLA 23
COL 21
 
Half
CALST 29
SEAT 29
 
1st
WLVRN 25
UMKC 23
 
Final
DET 4
NYI 1
Final
NYR 4
CAR 1
Final
WIN 2
DAL 5
Final
NJD 3
FLA 1
Final
PHI 1
TOR 0
Final
TAM 3
CLB 1
2nd
CAL 0
EDM 2
 
1st
SJS 1
CHI 0