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Palmieri, Blackwood could miss road trip for Devils

Forward, goalie each out with injury, might not return until after All-Star break

by Dave McCarthy / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

TORONTO -- Kyle Palmieri and Mackenzie Blackwood each could be out for the New Jersey Devils for their road trip prior to the All-Star break because of injury.

Palmieri (lower body) will miss his second consecutive game and Blackwood (upper body) his third straight when the Devils play at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, SNO, MSG+, NHL.TV).

"It's still up in the air. I just talked to the medical staff, he's stayed at home," Devils coach Alain Nasreddine said of Palmieri. "There is a possibility he might be back before the All-Star break, but it's a slight chance, so right now I don't have that exact answer."

Palmieri, who leads the Devils with 31 points (16 goals, 15 assists) in 44 games, sustained the injury in a 5-1 win against the Washington Capitals on Saturday. The forward did not play in a 3-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday.

Video: TOR@NJD: Palmieri beats Hutchinson from the slot

"We lose a lot (with Palmieri out). Obviously, it's not just the goal-scoring, he brings a lot of leadership," Nasreddine said. "We've talked about the style of play we want to bring game in and game out, that's exactly what he brings with his speed and tenacity. He's physical too. When guys see a top line player like himself do all those things, that's where his leadership comes in. It's a big loss but we don't expect it to be really long term."

Blackwood also remained in New Jersey, though Nasreddine said it has not been ruled out that the goalie could join the Devils at some point on the trip.

"Same thing like with Palmieri, we don't have an exact answer on Blackwood," Nasreddine said. "… It doesn't mean he can't join us on the road trip, but right now we're just being cautious."

Blackwood is 14-12-6 with a 2.97 goals-against average and .905 save percentage in 34 games this season.

Palmieri, who was selected as the representative for the Devils for the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Jan. 25, was replaced by teammate Nico Hischier, who has 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) in 40 games. 

 

[RELATED: Hischier named to Metropolitan Division for NHL All-Star Game]

 

"It's well deserved," Nasreddine said. "We've been talking about Nico a lot lately, and he's taken that next step on and off the ice, so it's nice to see him getting rewarded and going to the All-Star Game."

Hischier said losing Palmieri will be a challenge for the Devils, who will try for a season-high third straight win when they face the Maple Leafs before finishing their road trip with games against the Capitals on Thursday and Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

"It's a tough loss for sure, he's a big part of our team but we always try to focus on the players who are going to play," Hischier said. "Nobody wants him to be hurt but now it's a focus of who's in here in our room right now. It's a big loss for us but we've got players who can fill the spot. He's a leader for us and you never want to see a leader being out for a couple of games. We're playing for him now to make sure we put our best foot forward while he's out."

Forward Blake Coleman, who is second on the Devils in goals with 15, said it is up to the players to continue to play the way they have in the wins over the past two games.

"You never want to lose your leading scorer but he's a lot more than a goal scorer," Coleman said of Palmieri. "He's hard on pucks and eats a lot of minutes for us. Right now though it seems like guys who are in the lineup have been doing their jobs and giving us a chance to win so we just have to try to keep that up."

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