When Bryce Salvador suits up against the Rangers on Friday, it will be five days shy of a year since his last game.
Salvador is expected to be in the lineup for the Devils’ preseason home opener at Prudential Center (7 p.m., MSG Plus). He last played on Sept. 28, when a concussion forced him out of a preseason meeting versus Philadelphia.
Adjusting to the pace of game play won’t be easy, but Salvador has battled hard to get this far.
“You’ve got to respect the game,” Salvador said after practice Thursday. “You can’t just take a year off from the NHL and just think that everything’s gonna be a piece of cake. I’m looking forward to coming back and I’m going to work twice as hard as I normally would just to be back in that mindset.”
There’s no shortage of competition on the Devils’ blue line this year. Besides returning veterans like Andy Greene, Henrik Tallinder and Anton Volchenkov, hopefuls like fourth-overall pick Adam Larsson and free-agent tryout Anton Stralman have quickly shown what they might bring to the big club come October.
Salvador has used an outsider’s mindset to keep his competitive fire burning.
“Being a veteran in the League gives you some leeway but it doesn’t guarantee you anything,” he said. “I think as soon as you ever assume or start taking things for granted, that’s when you’ve lost your edge. I know the situation I’m in, but everyone wants to play. Nothing’s given to anybody. You’ve got to earn it.”
Peter DeBoer has been pleased that Salvador hasn’t shown the rust associated with a long-term layoff.
“I’ve watched Bryce for a few years now and he’s a very effective player,” said the coach. “I think this team missed him last year. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. I think everyone’s excited to get him back in the lineup and healthy.”
Notes and quotes
• DeBoer confirmed that Martin Brodeur will start Friday’s contest and play the full game.
• Cam Janssen’s an unlikely candidate to generate offense, but it was his line with Petr Sykora and Eric Boulton that got the Devils off to a 1-0 lead in Wednesday’s preseason opener. Patrik Elias scored in overtime to beat the Rangers, 2-1.
“I thought he did his job,” DeBoer said of Janssen. “He was effective. It shows you that a tough guy can be effective without fighting. He got in on the forecheck, he used his speed. His line created a goal. The other team knew he was on the ice when he was out there. He did a good job, him and [Eric] Boulton, both.”