WINNIPEG, MB - A stop in Winnipeg, Manitoba Sunday night will conclude the New Jersey Devils season-long seven game road trip. The Devils are currently on a stretch where they have gone 1-5-0 and through their adversity, are being tested as a group.
"I'm 100% sure we are a good team," Nico Hischier said after practice on Saturday. "It's not a secret. If we play our game, we can beat any team in this league. We have to figure that out and have confidence in each other."
"Everybody has to look in the mirror and be a self-starter there and do what he needs to help win the game," Hischier added. "You can't be selfish. At that point of the year, you need to work for the team. It starts with yourself, so you really have to look in the mirror and ask, 'What can I do to help the team win?' That's what it's about. Play with your strengths. Play simple and just play what you're comfortable with. That's our identity."
Hischier will play with at least one new line mate against the Jets. Coach John Hynes indicated after practice that the top line of Taylor Hall, Hischier and Kyle Palmieri will be split up for the first time this season. The Devils shakeup comes as the team looks to avoid a third straight loss.
"We have a strong foundation and a strong culture and a strong identity, and that's what you need," Hynes said. "You talk about self-starters, competitive people, gritty people and a brotherhood, some of that is being tested right now. The grit, you've got to durable and reliable through a long season. You have to be able to push through it."
"It's easy to talk about [the brotherhood] and say it's working when things are going well," captain Andy Greene said. "It's now about how do we respond, how do we react. How do we pull together here and put it to good use. We always talk about it, now let's rely on our foundation here and let's come together and put together a good game."
On defense, Egor Yakovlev will make his NHL debut, in a first appearance since being recalled from Binghamton on October 22. Mirco Mueller will come out in place of Yakovlev.
"He's a good puck moving defenseman," Hynes said. "He transitions the puck really well, he joins the rush well and good in break-out situations to be able to get us up and out of our d-zone. Hopefully those attributes in his game are real good tonight."
The Devils will need to be at their best against Winnipeg, who are 6-2-1 at home and 9-5-1 to start the year.
"We have an opportunity to try and get back to our game," Winnipeg native Travis Zajac said. "We need to make sure we come out with the right compete, hard work, structure and go from there. We can't worry about the result, we have to worry about how we play our game and getting to it as quick as possible."
Cory Schneider will get the start in net.