W2W4: Devils vs. Islanders


At a glance: In the first meeting of the season between the two teams, the Islanders and Devils face off in what will be a prelude to the season opener October 4. The Islanders enter Thursday's game having dropped a pair of split-squad games in Calgary, while the Devils are coming off a 2-1 win over the Rangers Monday night.

Big night for Brunner: Damien Brunner had to watch from a suite Monday night, but the 26-year-old Swiss forward will be on the ice Thursday for the first time since signing a professional tryout agreement with the Devils. Though general manager Lou Lamoriello said there are "no guarantees" that come along with the PTO, chances are the former Red Wing has a good shot to crack the opening day roster.

Introducing Jon Merill: Brunner won't be the only one making his Devils debut. Top defensive prospect Jon Merill will play his first exhibition game. The rookie blue-liner, who played college hockey at the University of Michigan before turning pro, is expected to compete with fellow young defensemen Eric Gelinas and Alexander Urbom for a shot.

Young guns: Among the players expected to dress for the Islanders Thursday are talented young prospects Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome. Kevin Poulin, who is expected to compete for the backup position behind Evgeni Nabokov with Anders Nilsson, is expected to start in goal.

Clutterbuck sidelined: Those anticipating Cal Clutterbuck's Islanders debut may be waiting a while. The gritty 25-year-old winger, one of the Islanders most notable off-season acquisitions, is expected to miss significant time with a skate laceration suffered in a preseason game on Tuesday.

Missing in action: Neither Jaromir Jagr nor Patrik Elias is expected to play Thursday night. Jagr, who signed in New Jersey as a free agent this summer, left the ice with a lower-body injury the first day of training camp.

Like father, like son: While it's back to business for 41-year-old veteran Martin Brodeur as he heads into his 21st season with the Devils, he's had the delight of having his son, Anthony, in training camp with his team. Though it appears unlikely the father and son will take the ice together during a preseason game, Brodeur's son got to enjoy an NHL training camp with his dad after being drafted by the organization this past June.