Fans of the New Jersey Devils were able to breathe easy regarding Nico Hischier last season. The Devils captain started training camp last fall in question to be ready for the regular season. However, Hischier missed just one game, opening night, and went on to play the 81 remaining games of the Devils’ historic 2022-23 season. He even earned himself a Selke Trophy bid. Unfortunately, the Swiss forward’s health is in question for a second time early in the 2023-24 season and Hischier won’t play on Sunday vs. the Minnesota Wild.
“Hischier has an upper-body injury,” head coach Lindy Ruff explained on Saturday. “He’ll be out tomorrow (against the Wild).”
Coach Ruff went on to explain that there’s no timetable in place for the Devils captain to return. As of now, tomorrow is the only game Hischier is projected to miss.
Hischier has taken a number of bumps this season from the opposition. On Friday night against the Buffalo Sabres, Connor Clifton caught Hischier with an elbow to the head. Clifton received a match penalty and was ejected from the game during the first period.
Veteran forward Ondrej Palat quickly came to the defense of Hischier following the illegal check to the head. Palat wasn’t available following the Devils’ 5-4 victory over the Sabres, however, reflected on the incident Saturday afternoon.
“I saw Clifton hit Nico in the head,” Palat explained. “I just went after him. It wasn’t much of a fight, but he hit our captain so we go after him.”
Clifton received a two-game suspension for his illegal check to the head on Hischier by the NHL Department of Player Safety.
“This is an illegal check to the head,” the Department of Player Safety explained. “If Clifton wants to deliver this hit, Clifton must stay low and choose an angle that hits through Hischier’s shoulder and core, rather than one that makes the head the main point of contact.”
The Devils are set to take on the Wild at 5 PM on Sunday in the first leg of a home-and-home mini-series. Following Sunday’s contest against the Wild, the Devils will travel to Minnesota to face them again on Thursday.
Jack Hughes was also absent from Saturday’s skate. According to the Devils, it’s just a maintenance day for the franchise forward.