As they say, practice makes perfect, and that's what the New Jersey Devils are hoping for with a week between games. After Monday's focus on basic skills and techniques, coach John Hynes jumped on to the practice rink with his team to host a hard fought, up-tempo practice on Tuesday. The Devils have a week between games, as their next opponent is the Senators on Friday.
"We have to pick and choose the days we're going to work real hard," Hynes said after practice. "But it's also using the break to make sure we're full of energy to come into the week. That's why we scheduled a couple of days off and not every day was a grinding day. We did have some very hard days that keep you in game rhythm."
Hynes had his team work at a furious pace with little rest between drills. One-on-one stick battles opened up the 90-minute session where players were worked to the bone, they also participated in skating drills without the puck to work on game speed.
"Today we pushed them really hard, with a nice day off tomorrow," Hynes said. "We talked about it as a group, I think they players have done a really good job. Every time we've come here the players have worked really hard."
One other focus of Tuesday's practice was to try to cut down on penalties. There have just been too many, Hynes has said, and it's not always easy to work on that in practice. But Hynes has his plan. At one point, he could be heard advising his team that if they hook, trip or slash one another during the drills, they'll have to lap the rink as punishment.
"We had a couple out there today with some trips and hooks in those drills," Hynes said. "We're trying to simulate as much as you can in practice. We're certainly all aware of it. When see something in practice … we either stop drills or they have to do it again. Seems like it's going in the right direction, but we've got to get into games."
During line rushes, Brian Boyle was rotating on the second line at center along with Adam Henrique. Marcus Johansson and Jesper Bratt were on their wings. Boyle is progressing well, but without having had a training camp will need some extra time before he can get into any game action.
"Brian was a little bit better today," said Hynes when asked about Boyle's progress and getting into a game. "He's now had three days where he'd been able to be on the ice and practice. He is definitely more engaged, just asking questions about certain things. Being in battles and playing. Today looked like a hard practice for him but these are the things he needs to get back in so it's encouraging."
All healthy bodies were present, meaning Cory Schneider and Kyle Palmieri were the only players missing from practice. Both are dealing with lower body injuries, and while Schneider skated on his own before practice, Palmieri remained off his skates. Palmieri worked out off the ice, and Schneider will skate again on Wednesday by himself.