The New Jersey Devils have been slow out of the chute, so coach Lindy Ruff turned up the temperature heading into Tuesday’s game against the visiting Anaheim Ducks.
The Devils started the season with back-to-back 5-2 losses to the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings, prompting Ruff to put the Devils through a long fast-paced practice on Monday.
“Practice with a purpose,” New Jersey center Nico Hischier said afterward. “We practiced on stuff we think we can do better in games, so it’s more natural for us, and that’s what we do. It’s 80 more (games) to go. We’re definitely on a new day (Tuesday) and a new game day.”
The Ducks started the season with an impressive 5-4 come-from-behind win in overtime against the visiting Seattle Kraken on Wednesday, but have dropped the first two games of their five-game road trip.
After a very one-sided 7-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday night, the Ducks played better against the New York Rangers on Monday, but still lost 6-4.
The Ducks are 7-for-13 on the penalty kill so far this season, and goalie John Gibson has allowed five goals through the first two periods in each of the past two games.
Both times he was replaced by Anthony Stolarz, who will likely make his first start of the season against the Devils.
“It’s always nice to be able to get right back out there again,” said Ducks forward Adam Henrique, who played for the Devils from 2011-18. “We’re going against, again, a desperate team, so we’re going to get their best and we know that we have more to give.”
One player who isn’t off to a slow start for Anaheim is right wing Troy Terry.
After breaking out last season for 37 goals and 30 assists, Terry has three goals and three assists through the first three games this season.
“Everybody saw what he can do last year and now it’s just more of the same right from the start,” Henrique said. “He’s so creative, he works hard, he’s passionate, he’s a fun guy to play with, he’s a fun guy to be around. He’s going to be a good leader in the locker room for years to come for this team.”
The Devils were glad to have Hischier back against the Red Wings after he missed the season opener against the Flyers because of a hamstring strain.
Hischier was removed from injured reserve on Saturday and produced three shots against Detroit while winning 11 of 16 faceoffs.
Hischier said he won’t let the bad start to the season set a precedent.
“It’s two games,” Hischier said. “We battled hard. It’s really frustrating, but there is way more to go. We can’t get too low. We’re looking to win the next one. That’s the mindset right now. We can’t get too low; 80 more to go.”
One change New Jersey showed in practice on Monday was moving rookie right wing Alexander Holtz up to the top line with Ondrej Palat and Hischier.
Holtz, the seventh overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, scored his first NHL goal in the season opener against the Flyers.
–Field Level Media