PITTSBURGH, PA - New Jersey Devils forward Jean-Sébastien Dea is no stranger to PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. The Devils forward spent the first six years of his NHL career between the Penguins and their minor league affiliate, before he was claimed on waivers by the Devils on September 28th.
"It's obviously a new emotion right now," Dea said. "I'm excited to be back. It's going to be a fun game. It doesn't matter which side I'm on, I've just got to play my game. I'm glad the Devils gave me a second chance in the NHL, that's what I've been hoping for my whole life - to play in the NHL. I'm just grateful to be here."
Dea, who has three goals to his name so far this season, scored just one goal with the Penguins - his first career goal - back in the very building where the Devils play Monday night.
"I'm not going to lie, it would be fun [to score] tonight," Dea added. "I'm taking this like a normal game for me and try to enjoy every moment of it. Hopefully we'll get the win."
Dea has managed to carve out a regular spot in the Devils lineup since his waiver claim and will play on the fourth line centering Brian Boyle and rookie Joey Anderson Monday night. Coach John Hynes says Dea is a great example of the type of player the Devils have their eye on when trying to improve their team.
"When you fit into a team identity, it's both on and off the ice," Hynes said. "When you look at the person, he's a great kid and a great teammate. He's come in respectful of people and that's what we want. We want good people in our locker room. Over the course of our time here with Ray [Shero] we've gotten more and more of those guys in there."
As for Anderson, Hynes pulled him aside after practice for a pep-talk as he gets ready to play in just his third NHL game. Anderson says he feels more comfortable with the group, both on and off the ice, after spending the last couple of weeks with the NHL club and hopes that translates to more effectiveness on the ice.
"He's a really smart kid," Hynes said. "He learns quick. We'd like to see him be a little more effective with his tenaciousness and speed. He's a very competitive player. When he has the puck on his stick you want to be able to have guys that can make plays. We think he can do that, he's just got to do that more."
Keith Kinkaid will be in net Monday after his strong performance in the loss to the Islanders on Saturday night in Brooklyn. The Devils are on the first half of a back-to-back.
"We think Keith has continued to play well," Hynes said. "It's an opportunity for him to come in and play, and we thought he looked really good in the Islander game and made some big saves. We like his game, we have all year long. He's the guy we felt gives us the best chance tonight."
Lineup vs Penguins