Keith Kinkaid has been called up from the minors to make his first NHL start on Tuesday and he couldn’t have asked for a tougher assignment. He’ll play against a Chicago Blackhawks squad that has won nine of their last 10 games and is getting back Patrick Sharp.
To make it even more difficult for Kinkaid, the Devils team in front of him will be nowhere near full strength. New Jersey is projected to enter tonight’s contest without forwards Travis Zajac (lower body), Ryane Clowe (upper body), Dainius Zubrus (leg laceration), Patrik Elias (groin), and Mike Cammalleri (pulled muscle in his rear), per the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti. Defensemen Adam Larsson (illness) and Bryce Salvador (lower body) are also unavailable.
Cory Schneider made 27 of the Devils’ first 28 starts, but he will be given a night off after turning aside 39 of 40 shots against Carolina on Monday. New Jersey called up Kinkaid this afternoon and sent Scott Clemmensen to the minors.
Part of the rationale for using Kinkaid over Clemmensen is probably related to how much ice time each of them has gotten recently. Kinkaid has been able to play regularly in the minors while Clemmensen hasn’t appeared in a game since Nov. 22, so rust could be a factor at this point.