Only three Devils skated this morning in Philadelphia -- left wing Brendan Shanahan, defenseman Jay Leach and goaltender Kevin Weekes.
Shanahan skated for 20 minutes and said he will play tonight against the Flyers after sitting out Sunday's loss in Boston for what Devils coach Brent Sutter called, "a maintenance thing."
Shanahan said he could have played Sunday.
"Brent has mapped out certain days in the schedule," Shanahan said. "With six games in nine nights, it was just a recovery day for me. I felt fine. I, obviously, could have played, but we're looking ahead more. They'll be doing that with a few players leading into the playoffs, not just me."
Shanahan also skipped Saturday's practice.
When I asked Shanahan if there was anything bothering him, he replied, "No. Just some of the jokes made on the Tonight Show. Other than that, I'm good."
That was my fault for leaving him that opening, but then I specified if there was anything bothering physically and he said, "No, I'm good".
Sutter was not at the arena this morning, so there was no official word on who would come out of the lineup to make room for Shanahan's return, but Jay Pandolfo, who played Sunday after being a healthy scratch for six in a row, appears to be the likeliest candidate.
The Devils can cllnch a playoff berth for the 12th consecutive season with a win tonight in Philadelphia and Florida loss of any kind to Carolina tonight.
The Devils would also clinch a playoff spot with an overtime or shootout loss tonight and a Panthers' regulation loss to the Hurricanes.
Any combination of three points clinches a playoff spot because, though the Panthers would still be able to match the Devils' points total, they don't have enough games left to equal their win total and wins are the first tiebreaker.
Left wing Patrik Elias and defenseman Andy Greene were also at Wachovia Center this morning, apparently for treatment.
Elias also was excused from Saturday's practice, but claimed he was "just resting." Then, he did not play in the final nine minutes of Sunday's game.
"We were losing 4-1," was Elias' explanation.
Elias said he is playing tonight, though.
Shanahan gave an interesting answer this morning when asked if anything had surprised him since joining the Devils in mid-January.
"I knew it was a good team," he said. "I didn't realize until getting here -- I'm impressed with the depth throughout the lineup, all four lines. Some of the defensemen on our team don't get enough credit. We all have confidence in them as a team and the more I see them, the more I like them. Which is good, as opposed to the other way around. So, our team and specifically our defense has impressed me."
Some things I missed with the Hockey East 25th Anniversary Awards that I mentioned Sunday. Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello was honored along with the other four founders of the league with the inaugural "Founders' Awards."
Devils defenseman Mike Mottau, who won the Hobey Baker in 2000 while at Boston College, was voted one of the top 25 defenders (defensemen and goaltenders) in Hockey East history.