NEWARK, NJ - Devils had a solid day of practice and meeting on Sunday at Prudential Center searching for some answers with a game on Monday afternoon against the Florida Panthers.
"It comes down to focus level, really. Focus and urgency. I think those are some things we talked with that group about. It's important that you have to get better through tough times and you have to get better," Devils head coach John Hynes began.
"When you're in a difficult situation, you have to focus on what's going to help you get out of it to get on track. And then sometimes when you're in situations where you're winning, sometimes you win and maybe not playing as well as you should and also there's going to be a dip and it's understanding that you're not too high and you're not low and you're focused on the present and how we're going to continue to move forward on that and that's the focus part. And then the urgency part.
"We have to get some urgency to fix the areas that need fixing when you look at those areas."
THE TROUBLE WITH SPECIAL TEAMS
One of those areas that the team needs to improve on is special teams. The Devils haven't scored a power play goal yet this season in 15 opportunities. They've also allowed eight goals on 16 penalty kills.
"Special teams need to continue to get better that's obvious," Hynes said. "And then I think when you look at our five-on-five game, I think we've done some good things."
The head coach pointed to the team's five-on-five play in their last two contests against Boston and Edmonton.
"If we're talking to right here in the present five-on-five, we've been a pretty good team. We haven't found a way to generate scoring and one of the challenges right now is with some newer players and guys understanding how you need to score. In the NHL regularly -- and you look at Boston's two goals last night -- the power play goals are shot off the pad to a net-front scrum and in the back of the net and then the first one was a shot with a screen, hits off Severson and goes in."
PREPARING FOR PANTHERS
The Florida Panthers come into Prudential Center winless in their last three games (0-1-2). Coach Hynes was asked to assess the club, another that made some big off-season moves.
"Well, they're a good team. I mean when you look at how they are, they have a lot of size," Hynes said, noting that their defense is very mobile. "They're good from a goal out and like any team they have certain strengths and weaknesses but I think the big focus is that is on us and our mindset making sure that we're getting to the level that we need to get to."
Hynes added that the team needs to ensure that it doesn't take its 0-3-2 record into account as they can only affect the result of one contest.
"It's one game. It's one game tomorrow. And I think that's what our focus has to be. Take lots of the positives that we have from last night and continue to work on the areas that need work -- which we addressed today (at practice)," Hynes noted. "We have to come out and just focus on Florida."
CONFIDENCE IS KEY
One thing the Devils need to guard against is having their confidence affected by the slow start.
"Our on-ice play has to get going, there's only so much that can be said. At this point guys are saying what needs to be said, guys are saying we need to battle, we need to dial it in. What's said is said, now it's a matter of just taking action. We need to put together a full group of games here, we need to put together a full game. As long as we control how we play and do the right things I think we're going to be successful more often than not," said Damon Severson.
"I think we definitely have a group that knows how to keep it light right now. We know how to enjoy each others' company and have fun when need be. At the same time, it's just a matter of getting a win and getting on a roll here and get some confidence and get going… Hopefully, we can climb out of it and then be able to calm things down a little bit."
LINEUP FOR MONDAY
Coach Hynes didn't go into lineup specifics on Sunday after practice. He'll speak to the media at 11:00 a.m. on Monday and if more information is offered, an update will be provided.
-- Marc Ciampa, NewJerseyDevils.com
DEVILS (0-3-2) vs. PANTHERS (1-2-2)
TV: 1:00 p.m. ET; Televised on MSG
Monday afternoon's game is the first of three meetings between the two teams this season.
Last season, the Devils defeated the Panthers twice and dropped one decision. Each team won a game in overtime.
Blake Coleman had three points (two goals, one assist) in three games to lead the Devils in scoring against Florida. Jonathan Huberdeau had two goals and six points in three games against New Jersey.
Devils team scope:
The Devils have gone winless in their first five games of the season but in an oddity, they haven't trailed on home ice for a single second. Both of their home games ultimately were shootout losses that the club was leading in for a good portion.
Their last time out, the Devils dropped a 3-0 game in Boston this past Saturday.
Kyle Palmieri, Blake Coleman and Taylor Hall each have three points to top the points leaderboard for New Jersey.
Panthers team scope:
The Panthers split a home-and-home series to start the season against the Tampa Bay Lightning in which each team won on home ice.
Since then, the Panthers have dropped three straight, against Carolina, Buffalo and NY Islanders with the latter two being shootout losses.
Mike Hoffman leads the Panthers with seven points through five games.
By the Numbers:
Florida has scored only one goal all season long in the first period, five in the second and seven in the third. The Devils have only scored twice in the opening period throughout the season with both goals coming in their season opener against Winnipeg.
The Panthers lead the NHL with an average of 39 shots on goal per game. ... New Jersey is one of four teams who have yet to score a power play goal. In penalty killing, the Devils are 31st with a 50% efficiency rating. Florida is second in the NHL at 44% on the power play at home but on the road they haven't scored yet in nine tries.