Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL
Devils say Alexei Ponikarovsky is day to day with a lower body injury. He did not go to Carolina with team, won't play Thursday.2013-3-20 23:10:55
Ponikarovsky becomes the ninth Devils player to miss at least one game this season due to injury. Fans have been critical of Peter DeBoer's inability to find consistent lines, but the injuries have not allowed him to do so.
The Devils finally seemed to get in a groove offensively with Andrei Loktionov in the lineup, but he has missed the last two games due to an undisclosed injury. Martin Brodeur has been on the IR since February 25 and the Devils have gone 3-7-2 in that time.
Brodeur and Loktionov are likely to return tomorrow night, but the Devils are still without some of their most important players on both sides of the puck. It doesn't seem like the Devils have started the same lineup in consecutive games much this season, and that trend will likely continue against the Hurricanes.
Last season the Devils had 10 players with at least 70 games played and had three mid-season acquisitions that appeared in most of their games with the Devils. This season, New Jersey has already played 28 different forwards in 30 games compared to the 35 they had in 82 games last year.
Tallinder is expected back in the next few games, Zubrus is probably another week away, and Ponikarovsky is considered day-to-day. If the Devils can get lucky and prevent any more injuries from occurring this weekend, they might be able to have a full healthy roster for the first time all season.
Tuesday's loss to the New York Rangers dropped the Devils out of the playoffs for the first time all season, but considering the injuries they have faced there is still hope for the rest of the season.
The race for the final playoff spots are likely going to come down to the very end, and the key to the Devils getting into the postseason will be getting their players healthy again.