TAMPA, FL - New Jersey Devils goaltender Cory Schneider will get the start Sunday night as the Devils begin a quick two-game road trip in the state of Florida. New Jersey visits Tampa Bay on Sunday, before taking on the Panthers Monday night.
The Devils have visited Amalie Arena already once this season, a matchup that did not go their way in an 8-3 loss. The Devils had a strong start, jumping out to a two-goal lead, but the tide quickly turned as New Jersey found themselves in penalty trouble against a high-octane Lightning squad and a lack of attention to detail was costly.
"When you look at the game last time we played here, it really got away from us when we got into penalty trouble," head coach John Hynes said. "That's something that you can't have with this team. They're a high-octane offensive team. You can't give them freebies, whether that's mistakes of your own system or no attention to detail or putting them on multiple power plays."
The Devils will be backstopped by Cory Schneider who, upon recovering from off-season hip surgery, is in search of his first regular season win in 11 months.
"I'm just hoping to play well tonight," Schneider said. "Just enjoy it. Do what I can do. I felt better this week, building off of last game [in Carolina]. You can't carry things with you. You can't dwell on what's happened, you just have to keep moving forward. I'm in a good place, I'm fine, I'm eager to get out there."
Schneider's last game was in the loss to Carolina a week ago, and despite a rocky opening 30 seconds where the Devils conceded two goals, Schneider shut the door the rest of the way to give his team a chance. Schneider and coach John Hynes believe it was his best performance to-date.
"[Cory] really gathered himself after those two goals [in Carolina]," Hynes said. "He played well and made some big saves. His style of goaltending, where he's calm in the net, good with his rebounds, I thought he was good through traffic in that game. It looked like he settled in and it was probably his most consistent game that he's played to-date."
"He has looked better from the Carolina game through now [in practice]," Hynes added. "He does look like his game is coming and is better than what it was prior to that."
The 32-year-old goaltender has the full support of his teammates and they want to do what they can to help Schneider post that first victory.
"Everybody knows what's going on," Devils forward Nico Hischier said. "We really want to help him. We try our best and he's trying his best as well. You can see how hard he battles. He's a great teammate, so we really want to help him get this win."
At just 19-years-old, Hischier will play in his 100th NHL regular season game on Sunday, after playing in all 82 games in his rookie campaign.
"That's already a lot," Hischier said. "In Europe we don't play as many games, so 100 seems like a lot. It's been fast, but for me its just another game. It's something special, but not really!"
Hischier will remain on the top line with Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri, with the only change up front being Jean-Sebastien Dea sitting as a healthy scratch while Stefan Noesen draws back in. Noesen had been a healthy scratch for two straight games.
"[Stefan] knows when he's playing well and when he's not," Hynes said. "He's always been a responsible player for us defensively and systematically, but there was just a stretch in games where he wasn't generating anything offensively and understanding that we're not looking for him to make drop passes and saucer plays. That's not how he's going to create offense."
On defense, Egor Yakovlev will draw in for Mirco Mueller.