With Brian Rolston sidelined with a high right ankle sprain, rookie forward Petr Vrana will get to play in his first NHL game when the Devils take on the Washington Capitals Saturday night at Verizon Center.
"I'm definitely excited," Vrana said today. "I haven't played in two weeks or so, so it's exciting. It's definitely what I was waiting for."
Vrana skated today at right wing on a line with Patrik Elias at left wing and Dainius Zubrus at center.
"It will be his first game, so I'm the nerves are going to be flying," Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "He's just got to come in and be a solid player for us, solid in all three zones and use his skill to his advantage, but be an intelligent player. He's going to be fine. He's a good player."
The Devils say they are unsure how much Rolston is going to miss. Sutter wouldn't speculate. He leaves tha work to the medical staff.
"I'm not a doctor, I don't know what to expect," Sutter said. "It depends how quickly he heals. It could be a few days, it could be a couple of weeks, it could be a month. I don't know. The thing with me is it's the job of the trainers and doctors to get the guys that are unhealthy, healthy and my job is to coach the healthy guys. Hopefully, Brian will get back sooner than later and the trainers will do everything they can and the doctors for that to happen. My job as the coach and the coaching staff is to get the guys that are in the lineup ready."
Sutter said he wants to keep Zubrus, who finished Thursday's game at center, in the middle for now. Vrana has played center for most of his career, but will make his NHL debut at right wing.
"Personally, I'd like to keep Zubes in the middle right now," Sutter said. "We'll see how the game goes tomorrow, obviously."
Elias said Vrana's versatility is what makes him a good player and he's not worried about him being nervous Saturday.
"He's skilled," Elias said. "He can play any position, wing, center, defense, probably....He might have a little bit of Sergei (Brylin)."
Sutter kept the other three lines the way they were at the end of Thursday night's 1-0 win in Atlanta.
The line of Zach Parise, Travis Zajac and Jamie Langenbrunner remains the same. John Madden centered Jay Pandolfo and Brian Gionta on the checking line and Bobby Holik played between Mike Rupp and David Clarkson on the fourth line. Those are the combinations Sutter plans to at least start Saturday's game with. He said the same six defensemen will play, meaning Andy Greene will play his second game in a row, and Martin Brodeur will start again in net.
After Rolston was injured when he lost and edge and crashed into the boards Thursday night, there were a couple of eyebrow-raising moments in practice today. First, Brodeur was stung by a Clarkson shot that hit him in the left wrist, just above where the cuff on his catching glove ends.
"It's where there is no protection," Brodeur said. "They found a hole."
Brodeur iced his wrist after practice and said it was nothing to worry about.
"Just sore a little, a bruise," he said. "One of many to come this season."
The second incident came near the end of practice when Parise lost an edge and crashed into the boards in a manner similar to Rolston's accident. Parise got up slowly and flexed his right foot/ankle, but finished out practice and said he was "fine."
"I just lost an edge," he said.
Brent Johnson will start in net for the Capitals on Saturday. Viktor Kozlov (knee) and Tom Poti (groin) are out. Donald Brashear (hand) also might not play.