NEWARK - If Chris Kreider and Jacob Josefson didn't bump into each other en route to their respective team tables at the 2009 draft, they're about to get a rude introduction.
Kreider was selected 19th overall by the New York Rangers, while Josefson's name was called next by the Devils at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Almost three years later, Kreider is the mystery scoring machine of these Stanley Cup playoffs, while Josefson was inserted into the lineup Monday to help prevent the Rangers extending their 2-1 series lead.
"I don't remember seeing (Kreider), I thought he was taken a few places ahead of me," said Josefsen, who came back from a late-season wrist injury to bump veteran Petr Sykora from the Game 4 lineup. "I've never met him. But that's fun (to be on the same playoff stage)."
Kreider's fifth goal of the playoffs -- and seventh point -- in Game 3 set NHL records for most post-season production by a player yet to appear in a regular season game. The Boston College speedster had a goal in every game of the Eastern Conference final before Monday.
"We're not doing a lot of teaching and a lot of structure with him," New York coach John Tortorella said. "There's enough things going through his head. We just want him to play.
"If he was any more seasoned, his coach might try and screw him up. Right now, he's doing some good things for us and we're going to leave him the hell alone."
Josefson was just turning the corner as a full-time Devil when he suffered a broken collarbone, then snapped his left wrist in a fluke on-ice accident in early April. He played exactly half a season, 41 games, and had nine points and was a plus-10. Drafted as a two-way player, he was a big part of the fourth line when injured.
The Devils have had success with Russians and Czechs through the years, not so much with Swedish skaters in the days since Patrik Sundstrom.
Josefson has been itching for the chance to make his playoff debut after watching young Devils Adam Henrique, Mark Fayne and Adam Larsson do likewise.
"It's frustrating not playing, but it's a good experience to stay on the side and learn," Josefson said. "You can see that everything steps up a notch. You make a mistake, the other team takes advantage of it. Those are the games you want to play in. I can add some fresh legs, some speed and some energy. I've been working with our strength coach on and off the ice and I'm more than ready."
Sykora was amused to see a large pack of reporters hovering at his stall when he finished his extra session with the Black Aces.
"I don't have this many media when I'm playing," said the 35-year-old, who was drafted by Jersey in almost the same first-round spot as Josefson 14 years earlier. Sykora appeared in all 82 regular season games in his comeback after playing in Europe last season.
"I'm just trying to stay in shape," Sykora said of his demotion.