Left wing Patrik Elias won't play tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena because of a lower body injury, Devils coach Brent Sutter said.
"I guess he's too sore to play," Sutter said, sounding slightly irritated. "We don't want any excuses out there. Either you can play and go all out or you can't play."
Jay Pandolfo will take Elias' spot in the lineup.
Elias said it is the same muscle tightness in one of his legs that kept him out of the March 23 game in Philadelphia. He said it bothered him again during Monday's 3-0 loss to the Rangers. Although it sounds like a groin injury, Elias would not confirm that.
"I've been feeling that the last couple of days again and it's not getting much better," Elias said. "So we have to stay on top of it and hopefully I'll get myself going the next few games."
Elias practiced Tuesday, but did not participate in today's morning skate. He actually said, "I don't know yet," when asked this morning if he was going to play tonight, but apparently was just leaving it up to Sutter to give the official word.
"Just skating-wise, sometimes you don't have that speed, you don't have the strength and everything," Elias said. "And when you don't have your legs going it affects a little bit of the whole game."
Elias needs some rest to get healthy, but the Devils' doesn't really allow for that right now.
"With so many games right now and so many practices, I don't expect it to get 100 percent better," Elias said. "But I'm just trying to make progess and right now it's not (making progress)."
Elias sid he had "no idea" what caused the injury.
So, the Devils will have to try to break their five-game losing streak tonight without Elias. His absence certainly won't help their struggling offense. The Devils have scored only six goals in the last five games and were shut out by the Rangers on Monday.
"Patty is a great player, but I think we have enough depth in here that we can step up," said Brian Rolston, who move up to Elias' spot at left wing on the line with Dainius Zubrus and Brian Gionta. "We're about the team game and that's what we've got to do to be at our best tonight."
Sutter held a team meeting prior to Tuesday's practice. We'll have to wait until tonight to see if his message got through to the players.
"I think we all know what needs to be done," Sutter said this morning. "Now we've got to put it to use."
As I posted earlier, here are the line combinations for tonight's game.
Parise-Zajac-Langnebrunner; Roston-Zubrus-Gionta; Pandolfo-Madden-Clarkson; Shanahan-Rupp-Holik.
Sutter said he wants to use Bobby Holik at right wing and Mike Rupp as the center on that fourth line.
"I'm not saying he can't go back to center ice, but I think he's been more effective for us as a player and the way he plays on the wing than he is at center right now," Sutter said. "When you look at it overall for the team, Bobby has been at his best when he's played right wing."
The defense pairs will remain the same and Andy Greene and Jay Leach will be healthy scratches again.