The term dinged up is an understatement in regard to the health of the New Jersey Devils.
There’s an argument to be made that they’re the most injured team in the league based on the absences of Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, their No. 1 and No.2 centers.
General manager Tom Fitzgerald explained he believed things were going to turn a corner soon. He alluded to the fact that New Jersey’s health is going to begin to trend in the right direction, finally. Fortunately, what he saw in his crystal ball was true.
Tomas Nosek finally returned to practice on Thursday after suffering a lower-body injury against the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 13th. He was even in a regular contact jersey.
Thursday’s Even Strength Workflow:
Ondrej Palat-Dawson Mercer-Timo Meier
Tyler Toffoli-Michael McLeod-Jesper Bratt
Max Willman-Erik Haula-Curtis Lazar
Alexander Holtz-Chris Tierney-Nathan Bastian
Jonas Siegenthaler-Dougie Hamilton
Kevin Bahl-John Marino
Brendan Smith-Luke Hughes
It’s not uncommon for an injured returning player to ease into things. Nosek worked with Foote skating with the blueliner as an extra defenseman just to get some reps in. However, in 2v2 drills, Nosek looked all-systems-go as any evidence of a hampering injury was absent. The bottom-six forward also worked in a group that included John Marino, Kevin Bahl, and Chris Tierney during penalty-killing drills.
Nosek explained after morning skate he feels ready to go.
“I’m feeling good after my first skate with the boys. It was exciting to join the group again. It feels good to be back.”
Continued: “I’ve been skating now for 10 days. Sometimes when you get back into the games, the little details (escape you). You have to play to get used to it, so I’m ready to play I’m just waiting for the coach to put me in.”
Although Nosek is ready to suit up for a game, head coach Lindy Ruff explained today was step one. There’s a few more to go before a return.
“(Nosek) had a good day in his first practice back,” Ruff said. “It’s great to have him out there and up and running.”
Continued: “Now it’s about getting game ready. Today was the first step. We’ll get him a couple more and he’ll be ready.”
As a defense-first forward, Nosek should certainly help New Jersey’s defensive side of the game which was missing from their structure on Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche.
Elsewhere, the Devils worked on maintaining their man-advantage dominance through some power play drills.
Power Play Workflow:
Unit 1: Tyler Toffoli, Jesper Bratt, Timo Meier, Ondrej Palat, and Luke Hughes
Unit 2: Erik Haula, Dawson Mercer, Nathan Bastian, Alexander Holtz and Dougie Hamilton