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BLOG: Devils Practice Friday Ahead of Rangers Rematch

The Devils hit the ice at Prudential Center for a skate ahead of Saturday's afternoon showdown with New York

by Chris Wescott TheChrisWescott / NewJerseyDevils.com

The Devils made a few pre-practice transactions on Friday, sending Michael McLeod to the taxi squad, elevating Brett Seney from the AHL to the taxi squad, and assigning Josh Jacobs from the taxi squad to Binghamton.

Friday's practice had more focus on the skills than the conditioning as the Devils look to had more finish to their offense.

Video: 3-ON-3 | Missed Opportunities

Check the links below for more coverage of the skate.

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PREVIEW: Devils vs. Rangers 3.4.21

The Devils look to snap their current three-game slump when they host their rivals from across the Hudson

by Chris Wescott / NewJerseyDevils.com

The Devils square off against the New York Rangers at Prudential Center on Wednesday night.

You can watch the game on MSG+ 2 or listen on the Devils Hockey Network. 

Video: DEVILS MINUTE | Leaders Lead

 Read the game preview below plus our Pre-Game Story, videos, lineup updates, and more. 

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BLOG: Lines Get Shuffled Quite a Bit

Head Coach Lindy Ruff got out the lottery balls on Wednesday and mixed up his forward group

by Chris Wescott TheChrisWescott / NewJerseyDevils.com

Put 'em in a blender, mix up the lottery balls, shuffle the deck of cards.

Whatever you want to call it, Lindy Ruff did a bunch of shuffling of his forward group on Wednesday at practice.

"When you look at our club and our 5-on-5 scoring, we know we need to be better," said Ruff. "Some of the thinking is to create maybe some newness, which maybe has a history of creating some offense. Giving some players a bigger opportunity, maybe putting bigger, stronger players on some lines to give a net-front presence, where maybe other players can't get there. You know, every now and then you just have to shake it up. And we think that the mix we got for today is something that we're going to look at."

Video: PRACTICE RAW | Jesper Bratt 3.3.21

The line combinations were as follows:

Wood-Zacha-Palmieri
Sharangovich-Hughes-Kuokkanen
Johnsson-Zajac-Bastian
Maltsev-McLeod-Bratt/Gusev

It's not every day you'll see someone like Bratt or Gusev penned in on the fourth line. But it's something the Devils were trying out at practice. The lines are intended to shake loose some offense and give players opportunities throughout the lineup.

"Sometimes they're good to get a little switch up," said Bratt. "To have a little shock on the team we're playing tomorrow. So, I'm excited for that. And I think the whole team is excited going forward to the next game."

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BLOG: No Update on Nico's Status

The Devils expect to know more about Nico Hischier's status "in the next couple of days"

by Chris Wescott TheChrisWescott / NewJerseyDevils.com

The Devils are still without their captain, Nico Hischier, who took a puck to the face in a recent game and has missed time since. Head Coach Lindy Ruff was asked after practice on Wednesday if there was any change to Hischier's status but the answer was, not quite yet.

"No further update," said Ruff. "You know, I spoke with him at the game last night. I had a great conversation, but we don't have an update as of yet. We'll probably have one in the next couple of days."

Hischier has played in just five games this season, recording two goals and an assist. He's been out since sustaining the injury on Feb. 27 against Washington.

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BLOG: Devils Hit the Ice Wednesday with Rangers on Deck

Following last night's 2-1 loss to the Islanders, the Devils went back to work this afternoon with three games in four nights and two straight against the Rangers up next

by Chris Wescott TheChrisWescott / NewJerseyDevils.com

New Jersey has some work to do. They've dropped three-straight for the second time this season and have back-to-back meetings with their rivals from across the Hudson up next.

The Devils lost 2-1 to the Islanders last night with Miles Wood the lone goal scorer. Nico Hischier is still expected to be day-to-day with an update on his status to come over the next few days, per Head Coach Lindy Ruff.

The lines were shuffled quite a bit on Wednesday:

Tweet from @amandacstein: Here's how things are looking today at practice. Clearly a lot of shake-ups here for #NJDevils on the forward front. pic.twitter.com/jrxN2EnDgw

Check the links below for more content and coverage.

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GAME STORY: Islanders 2, Devils 1

The Devils power play was denied on four opportunities allowing the Islanders to escape New Jersey with a 2-1 victory

by Chris Wescott TheChrisWescott / NewJerseyDevils.com

The Devils and Islanders were deadlocked for much of the game, but New York got the jump on New Jersey in the third on route to a 2-1 victory. The loss was the Devils third in a row, their second such streak since Feb. 20.

The loss was also a disappointing result given it was the Devils first game of the season to host fans, with the building filled at 10% capacity. And the shutout put a stop to what was a 10-game point streak for New Jersey forward Pavel Zacha.

Video: POST-GAME REPORT | Devils Fall Short Again

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BLOG: Devils Practice Before Trip to Buffalo

The Devils hit the ice in Newark looking to prepare themselves for a rematch with the Sabres in Buffalo Thursday night

by Chris Wescott TheChrisWescott / NewJerseyDevils.com

The Devils would surely like to put their last three games, all losses, in the rearview mirror, and so it may be a blessing that with the condensed schedule they don't get much time to dwell on them. After falling to the Sabres 4-1 on Tuesday night, New Jersey hit the ice on Wednesday for practice before flying out to Buffalo for the rematch on Thursday.

Tweet from @amandacstein: P.K. Subban taking a maintenance day, not on the ice for #NJDevils practice.In his last five games, his lowest ice time was 18:59.

Devils defenseman P.K. Subban was absent from the skate, taking a maintenance day. 

Video: PRACTICE REPORT | Managing Mackenzie

For more practice updates, news, and notes, as well as video interviews, check the links below:

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    BLOG: Ruff Gives Evaluation of Team at Quarter Mark

    Offensive production an area of emphasis for the Devils at the quarter mark

    by Chris Wescott TheChrisWescott / NewJerseyDevils.com

    The Devils got off to a decent start, going 6-3-2 in their first 11 games and winning three straight to close out that stretch. Since then, the Devils have lost three straight, heading into a showdown with a Buffalo team that has had their number on Thursday night. The Sabres have won three of the first four meetings this season, including 4-1 on Tuesday.

    Video: PRACTICE RAW | Lindy Ruff 2.24.21

    But the recent slump aside, there is reason for optimism with this young roster. But that doesn't take away from the fact they, quite simply, need to be better. Special teams has been an on-going topic with the Devils, but it was their overall offensive output that drew the direct attention of Ruff on Wednesday.

    "I thought we got ourselves in a real good place," said Ruff. "We've played some really good hockey and have had some really good wins. We built a foundation around trying to play really strong 5-on-5 hockey to give ourselves a chance to win. I think on the other side of that, we're going to have to be better offensively. We're going to have to have more nights where we're scoring three or four. But at the same time, we have to make sure we're doing our job inside of our zone and not giving up the opportunities that basically would allow the other team to win."

    There's no better time than the present to turn this around. The Devils play a Sabres team on Thursday night that plays them with confidence. And then they have a weekend back-to-back afternoon set against a potent Washington team that just beat them 4-3 on Sunday. On the flip side, the Devils did pepper the Sabres with 42 shots on Tuesday. Perhaps they're due for some puck luck.

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    BLOG: Miles Wood on Dealing with Condensed Schedule

    Devils forward Miles Wood is still learning the ropes of how to take care of his body, particularly with a condensed schedule so he's starting to use the cold tub more often

    by Chris Wescott TheChrisWescott / NewJerseyDevils.com

    "I'm still trying to learn the ropes as fast as possible on how to take care of myself on the off-days that we do have," said Devils forward Miles Wood.

    And he's not alone. Across the league, professional athletes are battling with how to deal with a condensed slate of games and little time in between. For the Devils, the club missed two weeks of time due to much of the roster being on the COVID-Protocol List, and so it's even more condensed.

    Video: PRACTICE RAW |Miles Wood 2.24.21

    "As you guys are aware, we're not practicing much," said Wood. "So it's all about rest right now. And being prepared for that next game."

    Wood has an approach to his self-care that he hadn't adopted before this season.

    "I'm doing a lot more cold tubs. It's just about getting as much rest as possible. But I think that one thing that I've changed this year and done more than I have in the past is just doing like a cold plunge or a cold tub after practice or games."

    This season could be an interesting case study on athletes and how they care for themselves when rest is hard to come by.

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    BLOG: Blackwood On Taking a Full Day

    Mackenzie Blackwood talks about the decision of the coaching staff to give him a full off-day on Sunday

    by Chris Wescott TheChrisWescott / NewJerseyDevils.com

    Mackenzie Blackwood is going to play a ton of games in a Devils uniform, and this season is no exception. But when it comes to managing your top goaltender's workload, head coach Lindy Ruff took an interesting approach for the game in Washington on Sunday.

    Video: PRACTICE RAW | Mackenzie Blackwood 2.24.21

    He sat out completely, not even suiting up as a backup with Aaron Dell and Scott Wedgewood taking over net duties.

    "Yeah, it was good, said Blackwood. "I did a workout in the morning and a little stretch, kinda got my movement over with for the day. And then, you know, we got three guys here. I played the night before and I wasn't going to be playing that night's game, so I guess they figured might as well get both the other two in there and let them dress. It was good for me. I liked watching the game from a different angle."

    With a game every other day almost every week from here on out, plus back-to-backs on the weekends, it's likely we see more lineup decisions meant to give the workhorses on the roster some rest.

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