The New Jersey Devils were bestowed upon with another welcomed return on Monday. Captain Nico Hischier stepped onto the ice for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury against the Buffalo Sabres on October 27th.
Devils head coach Lindy Ruff explained after practice that although it was an encouraging sign to see New Jersey’s captain return to practice, there’s no definitive timeline for Hischier’s return to game action.
However, it was certainly an encouraging sign to see Hischier on the ice in a regular practice jersey as concussion-related injuries typically warrant precaution.
“Great to see him out there,” Ruff indicated. “I think even the guys got a bit of a renewed energy just seeing Nico.”
As far as playing in New Jersey’s next game, Ruff said “I don’t think should rule anything out. Today was his first practice and he has been skating.”
Ruff disclosed that Hischier’s been skating on his own for about a week.
Erica Haula and Ondrej Palat were both missing from practice taking maintenance days. Timo Meier remains out of on-ice activities with a lower-body injury, as does Tomas Nosek following the big hit he took by Jacob Truba on Saturday.
According to Ruff, he doesn’t anticipate Meier to make the trip to Detroit to play the Red Wings on Wednesday. Ruff did, however, indicate he still believes Meier’s injury to be short-term.
Nico appeared to be a full participant during Monday morning drills. He assumed his second-line duties centering Max Willman and Jesper Bratt.
One notable change on the blue line was Colin Miller, who was definitively paired with Luke Hughes. Brendan Smith, however, skated as the 12th on the Devils’ fourth line, presumably, hinting at a healthy scratch when New Jersey goes back to 12 forwards and six defenseman. Smith’s presence in the forward group appears to just be as a fill-in with a few forwards missing from skate.
Here was Monday’s workflow:
Toffoli – Hughes – Lazar
Willman – Hischier – Bratt
Tierney – Mercer – Holtz
(Smith) – McLeod – Bastin
Siegenthaler – Hamilton
Bahl – Marino
Hughes – Miller