By John Vogl
Since a perfect NHL debut, Nathan Lieuwen has struggled. He's stopped 72 of 81 shots in his last three appearances, and the .889 save percentage screams "rookie."
Ted Nolan talked with the young goaltender this morning, and the coach hopes he sees more from Lieuwen tonight. Lieuwen will make his third big-league start when the New Jersey Devils visit First Niagara Center.
"He needs to be a little bit more aggressive," Nolan said after the morning skate. "He’s got the technical aspect down. The one thing with forwards is we want to see how competitive you are, and the same thing with goaltenders. You have to come out. You have to challenge. You have to get out like you want to stop the puck no matter where it’s at. We want to see a little bit more of that."
Lieuwen stopped 10 of 10 shots when thrust into an emergency relief role March 16 when Jhonas Enroth got hurt against Montreal. Lieuwen allowed three goals on 26 shots during a loss in Calgary, got beat four times on 36 shots in a loss at Vancouver and gave up two goals on 19 shots in a relief appearance Thursday in Nashville.
Lieuwen is getting the start over Matt Hackett with Enroth (leg) and Michal Neuvirth (lower body) "still a ways away," Nolan said. Tyler Myers (midsection) also is not close to returning.
Nicolas Deslauriers, who welcomed a baby girl with his wife, will not play tonight despite returning to the team.
"He didn’t have too much sleep the last day or so," Nolan said. "He’ll spend some time with his newborn and his wife, and he’ll be back ready to go tomorrow."