NEWARK, NJ - Coming off their first victory of the season, the New Jersey Devils are focusing on pace and execution with the Vancouver Canucks in town on Saturday afternoon.
"A big emphasis for us was our execution," Head Coach John Hynes said after practice on Friday afternoon. "I think when you listen to the players talk after games, you go through a lot of things we do. It's our our execution with the puck and it was about practicing with a good pace.
There were some good things to build off for the Devils in their 5-2 win over the New York Rangers on Thursday night, and that was what they tried to do on Friday.
"Our execution was there," said Hynes. "We stopped it a couple times when it wasn't. It's an area we certainly need to get better on and improve in. So we worked on some of our neutral zone transition situations where we want to go to play a little bit faster. So it was kind of a combination of both of those two things."
BATTLE OF THE BROTHERS
After Friday's practice, Jack Hughes was, of course, asked about having to face off against his brother, Quinn - a defenseman on the Canucks.
"Yeah, it's exciting," said Hughes. "First time playing him on the NHL rink, so it should be a lot of fun. I think it's just another game to try to get the win. Obviously, a little more bragging rights and it'd feel a little more sweet if we win, but, at the same time, you gotta look at it like it's another game."
Jack Hughes was taken first-overall in this year's draft. His brother was taken seventh overall the year before.
Quinn is seen as a high-end, potentially elite, defender at the NHL some day. He has one goal and two assists in three games this season.
"I mean, his shiftiness on the blue line and his agility," Jack said. "I think he's a threat from all over the ice with the way he can move the puck and I guess you guys found out how we can shoot it too."
STILL ON THE MEND
The Devils are a little banged up at the moment. Captain Andy Greene remains on IR for now with an upper-body injury. Nico Hischier is still day-to-day, and Will Butcher is still being evaluated after leaving Thursday's game.
There were no real updates on those three after practice on Thursday, but it appears as though Greene and Hischier are closing in on a return.
"Certainly encouraging today in the fact they were able to practice and they both felt good in practice today," said Hynes. "We did some contact at the end with them. So we'll have to talk to our trainers a little bit later and then see. No determination has been made yet."
-- Chris Wescott, NewJerseyDevils.com
DEVILS (1-4-2) at CANUCKS (4-2-0)
TV: 1:00 p.m. ET; Televised on MSG+
Today's game is the first of two meetings between the two teams this season.
Last season, the Devils won both games, defeating Vancouver 4-0 on New Year's Eve at Prudential Center and 3-2 in a shootout at Rogers Arena.
Sami Vatanen, Miles Wood and Stefan Noesen each had a goal and an assist to lead the way for the Devils against the Canucks. Bo Horvat was the only Canuck with more than a single point, with two helpers.
Devils team scope:
The Devils have had a tough start to the season with only one win in their first seven games though that win came last time out in a complete effort against the New York Rangers, winning 5-2.
Taylor Hall leads the Devils with five points (one goal, four assists) in seven games. Pavel Zacha, Nikita Gusev, Blake Coleman, Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri are all tied for second on the team with four points
P.K. Subban picked up his first goal as a Devil last game, an empty netter. He now has three points in seven games.
Canucks team scope:
The Bruins are coming off a 2-1 loss in Winnipeg on Saturday night. On Monday, the team practiced at Rogers Place and looked to be shuffling up their lineup in preparation for Edmonton.
Based on their skate, forwards Martin Necas and Josh Jooris and defenceman Trevor Carrick look to be drawing into the lineup (per Bruins.nhl.com). It would be Necas' NHL debut after being selected 12th overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. He was on a line with Sebastian Aho and Elias Lindholm at practice.
By the Numbers:
Devils finally scored their first power play goal of the season on Thursday and now have one power play goal in 25 chances which at 4.0% ranks 30th in the NHL ahead of the Ottawa Senators who are still looking to find their first.
New Jersey's penalty kill has also struggled but on home ice it's moved to a respectable level based on strong play recently. The Devils PK is now 81.3% at home which ranks 16th in the NHL.
Devils - Andy Greene (upper body) is day-to-day; Nico Hischier (undisclosed) is day-to-day; Will Butcher (undisclosed) is out
Canucks - Antoine Roussel (torn ACL) is out; Oscar Fantenberg (illness) is day-to-day