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Devils Notebook: Emotional Lindy Ruff Runs Tough Practice

Ahead of back-to-back games with the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins, Lindy Ruff tries to keep his team prepared for a busy weekend.

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New Jersey Devils

Newark — Following the New Jersey Devils’ 4-3 overtime thriller, head coach Lindy Ruff wasn’t exactly happy about his team needing to come from behind to secure a win for the 12th time this season.

“Well, I’m actually getting a little tired of the comeback stuff,” Ruff explained Wednesday night. “We put up a good first period, but we didn’t take advantage of some of the opportunities. Even in the second period, three on one with the puck right in front of the net. I think tonight’s game was a little bit of a product of three days off. Some guys were sharp. Some guys weren’t sharp. Sometimes players will do extra during that break on their own. Some don’t. I thought you could see that we had some guys that weren’t sharp. I thought some of our top guys weren’t very sharp tonight. It affected our power play, it affected different parts of our game.”

That was evident on Thursday at morning skate. During 5-on-5 drills, coach Ruff used some colorful language to encourage his forwards to be a little more aggressive in the attacking zone.

That’s likely because New Jersey could only muster up one goal through the first 56 minutes of play against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the NHL’s second-worst team in goals-against per game (3.64). As a result, the Devils’ head coach was hard on his team before back-to-back games on the road with the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins this weekend.

When asked, Ruff told New Jersey Hockey Now he wasn’t frustrated. However, did offer that some emotion is sometimes necessary when trying to send a message.

“I wasn’t frustrated at all,” Ruff said. “I think some energy, some emotion (is good.) We had a meeting about more pucks getting to the net and more inside opportunities. I think we passed up some. I thought our pace, I didn’t like our pace in a couple of the offensive situations. You ask for energy and emotion from players. I think sometimes the coach has to have the same. I think sometimes the message is stronger when the emotional level is higher.”

Devils Personnel Notes

  • Curtis Lazar returned to practice after missing all on-ice activities on Wednesday.
  • Ondrej Palat took a maintenance day Thursday morning and was missing from practice.

Thursday Morning’s Workflow

Forwards

Tyler Toffoli – Jack Hughes – Jesper Bratt

Erik Haula – Nico Hischier – Curtis Lazar

Timo Meier – Michael McLeod – Dawson Mercer

Nathan Bastian – Christ Tierney – Alexander Holtz

Defensemen

Jonas Siegenthaler – Simon Nemec

Luke Hughes – John Marino

Kevin Bahl – Brendan Smith

Goaltenders

Vitek Vanecek

Nico Daws

The power play went 0/3 on Wednesday and has scored just twice in their last 26 opportunities over the last 10 games. Despite Coach Ruff indicating he was going to switch up the personnel on the power play after Wednesday’s game, things stayed the same.

Ruff explained he might have jumped the gun after an emotional tilt against the Blue Jackets on Wednesday when saying he’d switch things up. In fact, he wants to stick with what he’s got just coming out of the holiday break. However, he didn’t hesitate to note that the power play units are on a short leash.

“We spent a lot of time as a coaching group talking about power play this morning,” Ruff said. “And there’s a little bit of an issue when you come post-Christmas from three days off. I thought there was some rust in our playmaking ability. I really felt last night coming hot off the game that maybe we need to make one change or flip one guy out. Maybe put a shooter on one of the flanks. And that still can happen. You know we’ve done I’ve gone to that option. We went to that option in Philly during the game. We can still go to that option next game. Maybe if the first power play (is) not generating too much. But, we’re gonna stay with what we’ve got short term and short term is very short.”

Devils Power Play

Unit 1: Luke Hughes, Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, Tyler Toff

Unit 2: Simon Nemec, Timo Meier, Dawson Mercer, Erik Haula, Alexander Holtz

New Jersey faces off next against the Ottawa Senators tomorrow night following a resilient win of their own.

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