Capitals-Devils Preview

The Associated Press

Martin Brodeur is a big reason why the New Jersey Devils are on the brink of their best start in over 10 years, but coach Pete DeBoer may still tweak the lineup.

Coach Adam Oates isn't ready to push the panic button even with his Washington Capitals off to their worst start in nearly two decades.

Brodeur isn't expected to be one of DeBoer's moves as he tries to build on his first shutout of the season Friday night when the Devils host their former assistant and the winless Capitals.

New Jersey (2-0-0) has a chance to open a season with three straight victories for the first time since 2002-03, when they eventually went on to win their most recent Stanley Cup.

The 40-year-old Brodeur has stopped all but one of 43 shots through two games, including a 24-save performance in Tuesday's 3-0 win over Philadelphia.

"It shows how good an athlete he is," right wing David Clarkson said. "Marty is one of the best athletes I've played with. It's impressive to see him at that age doing what he's doing and having fun doing it. He makes us a better team every night."

Brodeur, however, has allowed three goals in each of his last three starts against Washington (0-3-0), winning only once. Still, he's expected to be back in net, while DeBoer contemplates changes elsewhere.

"We've won two in a row so any changes you make you're not going to make lightly," DeBoer told the team's official website.

The move may include putting Mattias Tedenby on the top line with Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk, while Dainius Zubrus joins Clarkson and Patrik Elias.

"Zubie brings a lot of size, he's tough to play against, he's great at protecting pucks, and he's a smart player," Zajac said. "With Teddy, you get a lot of that creativity, the skills. He's dangerous with the puck at all times."

Tedenby and Zubrus have managed an assist each so far. Clarkson and Zajac lead the team with two goals while Kovalchuk has one. All three scored Tuesday.

Zubrus had a goal and an assist to spark a 5-0 win in the most recent meeting with the Capitals in Newark on March 2.

Zajac, who missed that meeting with a sore Achilles tendon, has 10 points in the past nine home matchups.

New Jersey could be in for another strong offensive showing since the Caps have allowed 14 goals - seven on the power play - to rank among the league's worst defensive teams.

Oates is in his first season behind Washington's bench after spending two as an assistant with the Devils, helping them reach the Stanley Cup finals last spring.

The Capitals, though, are off to their worst start since dropping their first six games in 1993-94.

"I would say some of our mistakes are pure effort," Oates said. "It's very upsetting. I'm not pushing the panic button, but obviously it's upsetting. ... You've got to really want to do it."

Washington lost 4-1 at home to Montreal on Thursday and was booed off the ice.

"Embarrassing is almost the right term right now. Pathetic is probably a better one," right wing Troy Brouwer said. "We've got to turn something around, and we've got to do it fast. ... We've got to find a way to get some enthusiasm, get some passion in our game right now."

Alex Ovechkin is off to his worst start, failing to score in three games. He's only managed one goal while adding four assists in the past seven meetings with the Devils.

What to Read Next