It was nearly a full team practice for the Devils on Friday at Prudential Center, with only Janne Kuokkanen and Ryan Murray out on maintenance days. With back-to-back games this weekend, it was an opportunity to work on the team's penalty kill.
"We're doing a lot better stuff but still getting victimized by big mistakes on our penalty killing," said Devils head coach Lindy Ruff. "I thought our power play got us the goal we needed. We were stressing to try and get two in those four minutes.
"We spent five or 10 minutes today to get people familiar with assignments and being better in small areas."
The Devils power play ranks 31st and last in the NHL at 58.3%. They've allowed at least one power play goal in 11 of their 15 games this season and at least two power play goals in more than half: 8 of 15.
"We get down to the last 10, 15 seconds and make one read mistake that costs us not killing a penalty," Ruff continued. "You're going to see a situation where we look like a box and sitautions where we look like a diamond. You want to take away the strength of a team's power play and we've been trying different things to be more consistent."
Ruff talked about the differences between using a box or diamond formation and the importance to do both and adjust if needed.
"The way power plays now have gone, if you have two really good flank shooters you can see a lot of where teams go into a diamond. You're seeing adjustments night after night."
He added that special teams strategy has an added wrinkle with the teams so familiar with one another in a schedule like this.
"The unique part now is you're seeing the same team multiple teams and teams are making instant adjustments."
This weekend poses an additional challenge as the opponent both nights, the Washington Capitals, have had a deadly power play for years. This season is no exception, as they are clicking along at 32.9% and third in the NHL.
"You have an incredible playmaker on the half wall and another good playmaker down below. Two left handers passing to three right handers that all have great shots," Ruff continued. "Carlson up top, Oshie in the hold and one of the best scorers in the game in Ovechkin. You try to take one of those away, and one of those other options they'll go to. That's the area we're learning. We have some killers who haven't killed a lot in the past."