Cory Schneider returned to practice on Thursday, the first time he's participated with his Devils teammates since leaving the game against the Senators on Oct. 19 with a lower body injury. Schneider was one of three goaltenders dressed, as Scott Wedgewood remains with the team for the time being and Keith Kinkaid was also present.
The 11 a.m. practice lasted an hour, and battles in front of the net were a focus. Assistant coaches even got in on the mix. A player would battle for position in front of the goaltender, while either assistant coach Alain Nasraddine or Ryane Clowe would try and disrupt them from their position. See how the drill looked in the tweet below:
Schneider said he's feeling better, recovering from his lower body injury.
"No issues physically, just getting my stamina and energy back," Schneider said in the locker room after taking some extra time on the ice after practice. "I was out there for a while, it's good to be out there, put the work in and get your endurance back a little bit."
The Devils haven't played a game since Oct. 20 against the San Jose Sharks. They've used this week-long break for an array of different types of practices.
"We felt like the week was productive," coach John Hynes said. "We had some days where we went really hard. The players knew we were going to work really hard and were prepared for it. We had a skill day, I thought that was really good. We also had a chance to rest a little bit to get out of the grind of the games and the travel which help. Everyone is excited and ready to play."
The 6-2-0 Devils host the Senators on Friday night. It's a good time to refocus and continue to build on the success of the early season.
"I think we're feeling good about our start but that's only one part of it," Schneider said. "We've had a week off and have to recommit and re-establish ourselves. We can't start to go backwards or start to level out here. We have got to keep pushing."
Hynes says Kinkaid will start against Ottawa, and Schneider could back up. Schneider and his wife Jill are expecting their second child any moment, and he may not be available for New Jersey. If Schneider is not able to go, Wedgewood will backup Kinkaid.
Brian Boyle and Kyle Palmieri were both missing from practice. Palmieri remains out with a lower body injury, sustained in practice earlier this week. He will be re-evaluated on Friday, and there is a possibility he will be available to play against Ottawa.
Boyle was absent for personal matters that do not pertain to his medical status. He is expected to rejoin his teammates on Friday, though he will not play this weekend. Boyle will however make the trip to Western Canada next week and could make his Devils debut on the road.