NEWARK, N.J. - Devils return to the Rock tonight to host the Washington Capitals at 7 p.m. and put their undefeated streak on the line.
New Jersey has started the season 3-0 with wins against Colorado, Buffalo and Toronto. The Devils are the only team left in the Eastern Conference that has not yet lost a game in any fashion. They put that to the test tonight when they face a team in their division for the first time in the Capitals, who are 2-1-1.
At Friday's morning skate, Drew Stafford skated with the group for the first time since being injured in the season opener. He skated as the extra forward. Stafford says he's close to being ready, and could be available against the Rangers on Saturday.
Changes are coming again to the defense. Dalton Prout will play his first game of the season against the Caps. He takes the place of Mirco Mueller. Mueller will sit out his first game of the year. The matchup with the Captials also marks the first time that Marcus Johansson will face his former team in the regular season. He faced them twice during the preseason, but now two points are up for grabs.
Taylor Hall currently leads New Jersey in shots on net with 14, that's six more than Jimmy Hayes and Nico Hischier who are tied for second with eight. Neither Hall nor coach John Hynes are worried about his game. Hall says he may be gripping his stick too tight, but the supplemental scoring from the rest of the team takes the pressure off and allows him to focus on trying to get that first goal of the season. What better place to score his first goal than in front of his own crowd?
"There's a buzz about our team and our crowd is going to be good so we're going to have to be ready," Hall said after practice.
In goal, Cory Schneider gets the start and Hynes confirmed Keith Kinkaid will get the nod Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
Of note, Travis Zajac skated this morning with head athletic trainer Kevin Morley. Zajac has skated the last couple of days on his own. And while the team was away on the road, forward Brian Boyle also skated.