Pavel Zacha and John Quenneville will make their NHL preseason debuts tonight when the Devils open the exhibition schedule against the Boston Bruins in Providence, R.I.
Zacha, the sixth overall pick at this year’s Draft, centered Tuomo Ruutu and pro tryout Lee Stempniak at today’s morning skate.
“It’s a great feeling for me,” Zacha said. “I really enjoyed practice and I’m looking forward to playing Boston."
The veteran wingers have over 1,400 NHL games between them, and Zacha hopes to benefit from their experience tonight.
“It was my first practice with them,” he said. “I know they’re great players. They’ve played in the NHL for a long time. It’s amazing for me to play with them, and I’ll just try to enjoy it and learn from the best from them and just play my best in the game."
Zacha has already gotten advice from fellow Czech native Patrik Elias on how to prepare.
"He told me how to get ready for a game, do the little things,” Zacha said. "Play a two-way game, don’t just focus on scoring goals. He wanted me to play good defense, and if you play good defense we can just score goals after that."
Quenneville, New Jersey’s first-round selection last year, moves from center to left wing on a line with Adam Henrique in the middle and Kyle Palmieri at right wing.
“It’s super exciting,” Quenneville said. “It’s something I thought about a lot this summer, hoping that I could get the opportunity to do so. Tonight’s the night. I’m really happy that I got this opportunity and I hope to make the most of it."
Coach John Hynes, a Providence native, is looking for tonight’s group to apply elements from the first two days of training camp.
“One, we want to make sure of work habits. You want to focus on the things we’ve talked to them about. We want to have some strong structure in certain areas of our game that we’ve worked on. We can’t cover everything.
"The second one is, we want to see a team that’s going to play with passion and a lot of purpose in how we want to do things and that’s going to be [play] mentally and physically tough. Those are the components, identity-wise, we’re looking for. Then as coaches, tactically we’ll just look at areas that we’ve addressed with them and see if those things are taking place in the game."
Keith Kinkaid will start and split goaltending duties with Scott Wedgewood.
David Schlemko participated in the morning skate, but did not make the trip. Hynes said he’ll have to make a decision from the seven D that traveled.
John Quenneville - Adam Henrique - Kyle Palmieri
Tuomo Ruutu - Pavel Zacha - Lee Stempniak
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond - Joseph Blandisi - Matt Lorito
Sergey Kalinin - Jacob Josefson - Paul Thompson
Defensemen: Jon Merrill, Damon Severson, Eric Gelinas, Seth Helgeson, Colton White, Jacob Sweeney