After missing four games with a lower-body injury, Devils defenseman Colin White is anxious to get back in the lineup tonight agaisnt the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.
"Obviously, I'm excited to get back," White said. "I took a week off and we had four games in seven days so I missed quite a few games. But I had a couple of days after that to rest, get healthy and get skating on my own. I skated (Thursday) with the team and I felt pretty good. It's just getting my legs back and taking some short shifts early on, but I'm just looking forward to getting back playing."
White said the team was actually overcautious with the injury to make sure he was able to heal fully, but he wasn't ready to say it was completely behind him.
"I feel good now," he said. "Injuries happen. That's part of the game. Every night there's chances for guys to get hurt. It's nothing new. Coming off an injury, I feel great. I felt we gave it the proper rest. Maybe we gave it a couple of extra days just to make sure. The good thing this year is we had some time to do that."
White said he will play on the penalty kill tonight. That was an area where the Devils missed him most. They lost three of four games without him -- all three losses coming on the road. In those three road losses, the Devils gave up eight power-play goals.
Devils coach Brent Sutter said some people undervalue what White does for the the team.
"I think Colin has been very underestimated in a lot of ways for what he brings for this hockey team," Sutter said. "Having a big guy like that on the back end that knows how to play and plays rock solid in his own zone. He's our best penalty killer on the back end and we use him in a lot of ways and when he's not there it has an impact. When he's not in the lineup, we have to move other defensemen around and guys are out of their element."
Sutter is hoping the return of White and Patrik Elias plus having two days off earlier this week will have the Devils refreshed and recharged for their final nine regular season games after back-to-back losses on Sunday and Monday in Boston and Philadelphia, repsectively..
"I think that we had a weekend where we never played as well as we would have like to," Sutter said. "I think a lot of that had to do with fatigue mentally and also we were getting some guys there were starting to get some bumps and bruises and banged up a little bit and a couple of guys didn't even play. I thought it was the right thing to do giving them two days off where they didn't go on the ice and they could enjoy some time with their families.
"They came back yesterday and it was like a whole new light in them. How it translates into a game is yet to be seen. We lost the two games, but it wasn't life and death either and there's a lot worse things in this world going on than losing two hockey games. But we just want to make sure that we're focused here moving down the stretch enough to make the push now. Tonight happens to be Game 1 of that. We have a busy schedule here with six games in nine nights coming up and we have to make sure we're playing at the level we can accept playing at moving forward."
Just to clarify something on the tennis match Zach Parise mentioned Thursday. It was Parise and Travis Zajac against Jamie Langenbrunner and Jay Pandolfo. Parise and Zajac won the first set, but fell behind 4-0 in the second set before starting to rally. Then, Zajac had to leave, so the second set was never finished.
This is where the stories differ. Parise said he and Zajac would have won the second set. Pandolfo said he and Langenbrunner would have won it.
Either way, it doesn't sound like the "beatdown" Parise described.
"They should beat us," Pandolfo pointed out. "They're both 10 years younger than both of us."