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Johansson returns to practice after missing Monday's game

Hall takes a maintenance day as Devils prepare for Friday's game in Washington

by Amanda Stein @amandacstein / newjerseydevils.com

It was back to work for the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday. 

Tweet from @amandacstein: #NJDevils practice underway. pic.twitter.com/E8J9uxyYNA

Head coach John Hynes hosted a spirited, hard-working practice two days after returning from Florida where the Devils went 0-1-1 against the Lightning and Panthers. The road has been a tough place for Hynes and his team with just two road victories in 12 games away from Prudential Center this season. 

"We're making too many mental mistakes," Ben Lovejoy said. "We've played some very good hockey but have found ways to lose games by making stupid mistakes at stupid times. We're a team that will very rarely get outworked, we're going to work every night, but we're finding ways to lose games with mental mistakes, mistakes at inopportune times."

So, how do you clean up those mental mistakes? Hynes says he has addressed it with his club and put them in situations in practice where he sees those mistakes where the puck ends up in the back of their own net. In the meantime, the veterans on this Devils squad are remaining positive, having at some point or another in their careers been through difficult times. 

The Devils locker room is also peppered with young players, who are going through real struggles for the first time at the NHL level. 

"I'm trying to be positive," Lovejoy said. "I think a lot of the older guys are trying to be positive and tell [young] guys [struggles] are normal. It is normal, but you can't let it take over or let it go too long. We've let it go too long. We're trying to dig our way out of this hole. We have not found ways to get enough points. We're 15th in the Eastern Conference, we understand that. It's not a good spot to be in but we're not going to get out of this by yelling at each other or placing blame on other guys. Everybody has to look in the mirror." 

Tweet from @amandacstein: Good news! #NJDevils Marcus Johansson is on the ice this morning. pic.twitter.com/YfTcwcNJTQ

The Devils did receive good news on Wednesday, as forward Marcus Johansson was on the ice with his teammates. Johansson missed New Jersey's last game against the Florida Panthers, injured against the Lightning the night prior. 

"It's never fun missing any games," Johansson said. "It feels like I've had enough of that the last year. I'm happy that I could skate today and am feeling a lot better. I'm very happy that it's improved a lot over the last few days and I feel a lot better."

Johansson said he hopes to be able to play Friday night in Washington. He looked no worse for wear in practice, an active participant in all drills and situations. Johansson took Taylor Hall's spot on the top line with Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt. Hall was given a maintenance day and did not participate in practice.

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