It’s a double whammy on defense for the New Jersey Devils today, as they moved veteran Andy Greene and rookie Yohann Auvitu to the injured reserve, ahead of the team’s upcoming four-game road trip. Greene still plans to travel with the team, just in case, while Auvitu will stay behind. When the captain Greene was first diagnosed with an upper body injury, it was thought to just be day-to-day, but when his 350-game active streak was snapped on Friday, there was the impression that it was more serious. Auvitu was then knocked out of the Devils’ game on Saturday with a lower body injury and did not return. Both players missed Monday’s contest, and the team is winless over these past three games. New Jersey may have to do without them for a while longer, but needs to find a way to win even with a depleted defensive corps.
The 34-year-old Greene is an invaluable asset for the Devils. The head of their young blue line group and the unrivaled leader of the locker room, Greene has an important role on the team. A veteran of 680 NHL games, all with New Jersey, Greene has established himself as a smart and reliable two-way defender whose absence is felt whenever he is sidelined. While his age has begun to show this season with some defensive lapses, Greene has still contributed three goals and six assists and leads the team in ice time. The Devils are certainly a better team with the captain in the lineup and will be fortunate if he is able to return during their road trip.
Auvitu was somewhat of an unknown entering 2016-17, a 27-year-old Frenchman signed out of the top Finnish league. Auvitu was not intended to have a large role right away, but due to injury has been pressed into service and has performed well in 25 games thus far. The NHL newcomer has two goals and two assists and plays a sound defensive style for a player unfamiliar to the North American game. Auvitu would have been looked to for increased ice time and responsibility with Greene sidelined, but now appears as if he could be out even longer.
With John Moore still out with a concussion, the result of a vicious hit in a recent match-up, adding Greene and Auvitu to the injury mix puts a lot of pressure on a New Jersey defense that wasn’t deep to begin with. Former Merrimack College defenseman Karl Stollery has been recalled, alongside forward Blake Coleman, to fill the spots surrendered by Greene and Auvitu, and he is likely to see his first action as a Devil since signing with New Jersey this summer. Through 12 games with the Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks, Stollery has yet to record his first NHL point. However, Stollery had 24 points with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda last season and has nine helpers with the Albany Devils so far in 2016-17, so New Jersey will hope that those puck-moving skills show up if Stollery gets the call. Breakout star Damon Severson will continue to be relied upon for some offensive contribution from the blue line, while veterans Ben Lovejoy and Kyle Quincey protect their own zone. To really make up for the loss of Greene and Auvitu though, the Devils need Stollery, Jon Merrill, Seth Helgeson, and rookie Steve Santini to step up in their absence.